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Senator ol tho (Jmi(;d Suites. 







"Nature and Laws would be In an ill case, if Slavery should find what to say for itself, and Liberty 
be mute; and if tyrants should find men to plead for them, and they that can waste and vanquish 
tyrants, should not be able to find advocates." MILTON. 





New York: 11 East Seventeenth Street 

Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1861, 


in the Clerk s Office of the District Court of the United States in and for the 
Northern District of New York. 


THE fourth volume of THE WORKS OF WILLIAM H. SEWARD, is 
now presented to the public. 

The three preceding volumes, beginning with the earliest events 
of his life, closed with the enactment of the compromises of 1850. 

The present volume includes the succeeding and eventful period 
made memorable by the repeal of the Missouri Compromise, the 
struggle of slavery for Kansas, the assault upon a senator in the 
senate chamber by a slaveholding representative of South Carolina, 
the organization of the Kepublican party, its almost successful con 
test in 1856, and its triumph in the presidential election of 1860, 
and by the admission of Kansas into the Union a Free State : a 
period that may be said to comprise the harvest season of those 
principles which in previous years Mr. Seward had sown in the 
public mind, and watched and cultivated with so much consistency 
and integrity of purpose. 

The Memoir begun in the first volume is continued in the follow 
ing pages, down to the inauguration of a Kepublican administration. 
It aims only to give a plain history of the times and events of which 
Mr. Seward is so important a part. The action of Congress and the 
movements of political parties during the ten years especially such 
as find illustration and comment in his speeches are quite fully 
recorded. His interesting tour through the Western states during 
the last presidential campaign, including all the brief but eloquent 


speeches which he made at various places in response to the ad 
dresses presented to him, forms a considerable portion of the Memoir, 
These impromptu speeches contain many beautiful passages and are 
full of Mr. Seward s peculiar sentiments. 

The ORATIONS and ADDRESSES, following the Memoir, are among 
the most valuable productions of their author s fertile mind. They 
are entitled, The Destiny of America ; The True Basis of American 
Independence ; The Physical, Moral and Intellectual Development 
of the American People ; and The Pilgrims and Liberty. 

A BIOGRAPHY OF DE WITT CLINTON, occupies the next twenty 
pages of the volume. This is an original paper, 1 prepared with that 
just appreciation of its subject which Mr. Seward is known to enter 
tain. It gives more clearly than any biography, yet written, of that 
illustrious man, the political springs which moved his public life. 

POLITICAL SPEECHES, is the title of the next division of the 
volume. The limits of a Preface will allow but a passing allusion 
to any of the contents Of the volume. We can only, therefore, call 
attention to these speeches some twenty in number, beginning with 
the advent of the Eepublican party, in 1854, and extending through 
the campaigns of 1856, 1858 and 1860 as containing the history 
and philosophy of the great party which now governs the country. 

in this volume, present an eloquent and vivid history of the Kansas- 
struggle from its inception in 1854, when Mr. Douglas introduced 
the bill to organize the territory, to the final success of Freedom in 
1861, when the Senate by a decisive vote admitted the new state 
into the Union. 

Mr. Seward s latest speeches, on THE STATE OF THE UNION, con 
clude the volume. 

His speeches in the Senate, with those before the p eople in their 
primary assemblies, make a text book from which the richest instruc- 

1 A portion of it appears also in the New American Cyclopedia. 


tions may be drawn in the new Era upon which our country is just 

Perhaps the criticism that in some quarters greeted the earlier 
volumes may salute this that herein is Mr. Seward proven to be 
an Agitator. But History vindicates the agitator, from Paul to 
Luther and from Luther to the century of Eomilly, Wilberforce 
and Jefferson. That Mr. Seward has been an Agitator to no pur 
pose will hardly, now, be contended, if the to-day at Washington 
be contrasted with the morning when the Atherton resolutions were 
introduced into the House, or with the hour when Mr. Seward, 
almost alone, confronted an unbroken column of pro-slavery senators. 

Nevertheless, as Mr. Seward himself has said, the verdict is not 
to be looked for in the passing hour. " There is Yet in that word 

Neither, is this the place for vindication or eulogy, if any were 
needed. The four volumes speak for themselves. 

In those before published, appear Mr. Seward s Orations and 
Discourses ; his Occasional Addresses and Speeches ; his Notes on 
New York and Executive Messages ; his Forensic Arguments and 
Political Writings ; his Correspondence with the Virginia and 
Georgia Governors, and his Letters from Europe in 1833 ; his 
Speeches in the Senate of New York, and in the Senate of the 
United States. 

The friendly zeal which has prepared these volumes, may have 
given place or prominence to some sentiments and speeches which 
a timid policy would have suppressed. In similar collections an 
Index Expurgatorius, it is charged, has been allowed to swallow up 
the living issues of the day. 

But the Works of William H. Seward could not escape an injunc 
tion writ from their primary author, unless the boldness and frank 
ness of his thoughts had faithfully manipulated the types. 

Mr. Seward s sentences are all so full of the inspiration of Liberty 
and Justice, and so like aphorisms, that it is difficult to abbreviate 


or to suppress a page without loss to the public or injustice to the 
author s fame. Therefore, what at first may appear to be an 
editor s purpose to swell the size of the volume, will, on a closer 
view, be found a necessity. 1 

In the State Library at Albany, within the past year, has been 
erected the marble bust of the Ex-Governor and Senator of New 
York. It is midway between the alcove of History and Philosophy, 
and its gaze is directed at that immense compilation of brain labor 
the Edinburgh Review. A lady visitor, who was stranger to the 
place and face, pausing before it said, " Here beams in expression, 
thought, benevolence, earnestness and devotion to principle." 

"When the partisan rancor and political schisms of to-day shall 
have subsided, when prejudice shall have given place to candor, 
the Muse of History, we believe, will say the same of these volumes, 
and of those which time may add. 


March 4, 1861. 

1 Another volume like the present will be required for the speeches yet remaining in the 
editor s hands, unpublished. Several important speeches intended for this volume, and to 
which references are made in the Memoir, are unavoidably crowded out. An APPENDIX to the 
present volume contains the eloquent speeches made at the Chicago Convention ; the Platform ; 
and also the addresses oi welcome presented to Mr. Seward on his visit to the Western States. 



A Retrospect, 13 The Struggle for Freedom in 1850, 15 Mr. Seward s Course, 
16 Death of President Taylor, 19 The Compromisers Triumphant, 20 Nomina 
tions of General Scott and Frank Pierce, 21 Defeat of the Whigs and Supposed 
Overthrow of Mr. Seward, 22 Oration at Columbus, and Address before the 
American Institute, 23 The Repeal of the Missouri Compromia^ 24 Mr. Steward** 
Speeches, 27 The New England Clergymen, 29 The Pacific Railroad and the 
HoHesfeaxT Law, 31 The Fugitive Slave Act, 32 Mr. Seward s Reelection, 33 
The Plymouth Oration, 36 Aggressive Acts of Slavery, 36 Kansas Affairs, 37 
The Assault on Charles Sumner, 40 Organisation nf thA "RppuMipan Party, 4.1 
Presidential Election of 1856, 43 Fulfillment of Mr. Seward s Prophecy, 44 The 
Atlantic Telegraph, 45 The Tariff Assailed, 46 The Dred Scott Decision, 47 
Reconstruction of the Supreme Court, 49 Duties on Railroad Iron, 50 The 
Lecompton Matter, 50 The English Bill, 53 Oregon and Minnesota, 54 Mormons 
and Filibusters, 55 The Elections of 1858, 56 Mr. Seward s Irrepressible Conflict 
Speech, 56 Cuba, Kansas and the Pacific Railroad, $7 The Homestead Bill, 58 
The Indiana Senators, 60 Acquisition of Cuba, 61 Overland Mails, 61 Mr. 
Seward Visits Europe and the Holy Land Departure and Return, 63 Captain 
John Brown takes Harper s Ferry, 68 The Elections of 1859, 69 Death of 
Broderick, 70 Election of Speaker The Impending Crisis, 70 Mr. Se ward s 
Great Speech in the Senate, February 29, 1860, 71 The Spring Elections of 1860, 
favorable, 73 Presidental Nominations and Platforms. 74 The Republican Con 
vention at Chicago, 76 The Ballot, 77 Mr. Seward s Cordial Approval of the 
Candidates and Platform, 78 His Yisit to New England, Reception Speeches, 81 
Enters the Canvass for Mr. Lincoln, 84 Remarkable Tour and Speeches through 
CROSSE, 93 ST. PAUL, 94 DUBUQUE, 96 In Missouri CHILLICOTHE, 97 ST. 
102 ATCHISON, 103 In Missouri, again ST. Louis, 106 In Illinois SPRING 
FIELD, Abraham Lincoln, 107 CHICAGO, 108 CLEVELAND, Ohio, 110 BUFFALO, 
111 AUBURN, 113 End of Campaign. 113 Result, 114 Celebration of Victory, 
115 Admission of Kansas Secretary of State Speeches on Secession and the 
State of the Union, 117. 



* Oration at Columbus, Ohio, September 14, 1853 The Destiny of America, 121. 

Address before the American Institute, New York, October 20, 1853 The True 
Basis of American Independence, 144. 

-Address before the Phi Beta Kappa Society of Yale College, New Haven, July 26, 
1854 The Physical, Moral and Intellectual Development of the American People, 160. 

Oration on Forefathers Day, at Plymouth, Massachusetts, December 21, 1855 The 
Pilgrims and Liberty, 179 Speech at the Dinner, 203. 


Birth and Parentage George Clinton Political Relations The Council of Appoint 
ment, 209 John Jay Party Spirit Slavery Mayor of New York, 211 Hamil 
ton, Burr, Lewis and Tompkins Candidate for President, 213 Projects the Canal, 
216 A Private Citizen in Adversity Elected Governor, 219 His Administra 
tion Death. 


The Advent of the Republican Party: The Privileged Class^lbany, October^! 2, 
1855, 225^15ieXJorfesr andlKe Unsis^l^u^oTOctober f9, 1855, 241 The Domi 
nant Class in the Republic, Detroit, October 2, 1856, 253 The Political Parties of 
the Day, Auburn, October 21, 1856, 276 The Irrepressible Conflict, Rochester, 
October 25,1858, 289 The National Divergence and Return, Detroit, September 4, 
1860, 303 Democracy the Chief Element of Government, Madison, September 12, 
1860, 319 The Constitution Interpreted an Extract Madison, September 11, I860, 
329 Political Equality the National Idea, St. Paul, September, 1860, 330 The 
National Idea ; Its Perils and Triumphs, Chicago, October 3, 1860, 348 The Repub 
lican Policy and the one Idea, Dubuque, September 21, 1860, 368 Young Men and 
the Future an Extract Cleveland, October 4, 1860, 384 Kansas the Savior of 
Freedom, Lawrence, September 26, 1860, 385 The Policy of the Fathers of the 
Republic, Seneca Falls, October 31, 1860, 397 Trade in Slaves an Extract La 
Crosse. September 14, 1860, 409 The Republican Party and Secession, New York, 
November 2, 1860, 410 Disunion and Secession Extract La Crosse, September 
14, 1860, 421 The Night before the Election, Auburn, November 5, 1860, 422 
The Past and the Future Extract Cleveland, October 4, 1860, 430. 


Nebraska and Kansas Freedom and Public Faith Repeal of theMissouri. Com- 

Second Sveecfi, the night of the final paaaapp of 

tfrs^Nebraska-Kansas Bill, May25T 1854. 464. The Immediate^Admission of 
Kansas Emigrant Aid Societies Elections and Laws Impeachment of the Presi 
dent Compromises and Disunion, April 9, 1856, 479. Kansas Usurpations 
Speech against Mr. Douglas s second Enabling Bill and in Favor of the Immediate 
VOL. IV. 1 


Admission of Kansas into the Union Slavery and Compromises, July 2, 1856, 
512. Kansas and the Army The Spurious Laws Barbarous Enactments- 
Usurpations, August 7, 1856, 535. The same, at the Extraordinary Session Com 
promises and Popular Sovereignty, August 27, 1856, 559. Lecompton and, 
Kansas The Lecompton Constitution The Dred Scott Decision and the Presi 
dent The Kansas Governors The Supreme Court, March 3, 1858, 574. The 
same The English Bill The Conference Committee Compromises and Peace 
Closing Speech, April 30, 1858, 604. The State of the Country Speech on the 
Bill to Admit Kansas into the Union under the Wyandotte Constitution Labor 
States and Capital Stares, February, 1860, 619. Secession Speech at the New 
England Dinner in New York City, December 21, 1860 Secession and Disunion 
Considered General Views, 645. The State of the Union Speech in the Senate 
A Review of the Great Controversy Election of Lincoln, January 12, 1861, 651. 
The same Remarks on Presenting a Mammoth Petition from the Merchants of 
New York in Favor of Preserving the Union Debate with Senator Mason, January 
30, 1861, 670. 


The Chicago Platform Speeches at the Chicago Convention, Messrs. EVARTS, 
ANDREW, SCHURZ, BLAIR, BROWNING, BALDWIN, &c. Reception Speeches of Gov. 
Banks, Messrs. Longyear, Abbott, Gov. Randall, Judge Goodrich, Messrs. North, 
Allison, Boynton, Wilder, Mayor Deitzler, Gov. Robinson, Mayor Wentworth, &c. 

Mr. Seward s Speech to New York Delegation at Washington, on Inauguration 
Day March 4, 1861, on his retiring from office as Senator, 692. 


4 lf you would iiiii/ko it promote most effectually all precious* 
Interests, IDEJIDIOA.TiE it, I enjoin upon you., as our fore- 
ftvthers dedicatecl all the Institutions whilclx they estatolislied, 
to the cause of 





"All my life long 

" I have beheld with most respect the man 
" Who knew himself and knew the ways before him * 
"And from amongst them chose considerately 
"With a clear courage not a blindfold courage; 
" And having chosen, with a steadfast mind 
" Pursued his purposes." TAYLOR. 


A GLANCE at the memoir of MR. SEWARD, as contained in the first 
volume of these works, shows us a boyhood passed in the patriotic 
county of Orange; inspired alike by the ennobling scenery of its 
natural grandeur and beauty, and the historic recollections of West 
Point, Newburgh, and Minisink ; reminding us how consistently with 
such early associations, his life, in all its vicissitudes, has displayed the 
broadest patriotism and the sincerest humanity. It shows us a union 
from ancestry of Welch perseverance and Celtic generosity that is 
traceable in every foot-print of his public and private progress. It 
introduces him to us as a faithful student at Union College ascending 
to the summit of academic honors, only through the flinty paths of 
analytical knowledge, acquiring a mental vigor that is noted in every 
sentence of oration, conversation and private letter, as distinctly as 
the apple-blossom lives in the autumn fruit. It shows us a young 
man, not dependent upon a father s competence, journeying far 
southward to become an instructor, where the practical lessons in 
the social and political degradations of slavery there learned, became 
a part of his after career. The glance acquaints us with his legal 
novitiate with John Duer, and Ogden Hoffman, who loved and 
respected him to the last of their distinguished lives ; and then dis 
covers him in his earliest professional struggles at Auburn, afar from 
those allurements of city life that so poorly temper thought or 
strengthen mental conflict. How rarely indeed do districts other 
than rural, furnish us with statesmen ! 

1 Continued from Vol. I. 


We see him entering public life just as the debates on the 
Missouri Compromise had closed at the age of twenty -three writing 
a convention address with such prophetic sentences as these : 

" When, in Republican states, men attempt to entrench themselves beyond the 
popular reach, their designs require investigation." "The Judiciary, once our 
pride, is humbled and degraded." l 

Our glance shows him entering the state senate quickening its 
legislative pulse with the suggestions of moral courage, sublime in 
a young man of nine-and-twenty years, yet put forth with fearless 
ness and self-abnegation. 

It shows him suffering a gubernatorial defeat only to be recom 
mended the more strongly for a renomination and success. As 
governor we behold him, original, bold, perceptive, and self-reliant 
in his views and actions extorting admiration from the very jaws 
of calumny. 

And here we may remark that no position in public life more 
thoroughly tests a man s ability and character than that of governor 
of the state of New York. If he who occupies it be not a truly 
great man, a part of a term will be sufficient to make it apparent. 
The political knowledge, the financial ability, the legal profundity, 
the administrative tact, the accomplished yet sincere courtesy, the 
patience of detail, the coolness of demeanor, the quickness of appre 
hension, the promptitude of decision, the force of independence and 
the dignity of character required in a true executive officer of a 
state like New York, are equal to those several qualities demanded 
of any ruler in this country or in Europe. When we consider the 
great metropolis, itself containing a nation, the numerous growing 
towns, villages and cities, the gigantic systems of internal improve 
ment, the foreign governments on the north, the New England 
states on the east, Pennsylvania and New Jersey on the south, 
and the great inland seas on the west ; and the party animosities, 
crime, poverty, tyrannical wealth, exorbitant monopolies, delicate 
issues of reciprocity, extent of commerce, incessant reforms, unceas 
ing agitations, and jealousy of sects, that exist within and around 
the Empire State, with all of which, its governor is compelled to 
deal, the estimate we have given of the importance of the office 
seems not over-stated. 

i See Vol. III., page 335. 


Our glance shows him again as a lawyer turning aside from the 
affairs of state to those of the humblest client, with a fidelity and 
integrity of service only equaled by his conscientious devotion to 
the law and equity of each particular case. 

Finally it shows him a senator in congress, asserting with elo 
quence and courage the supremacy of immutable right in national 
affairs over the arts of compromise and expediency ; standing there, 
almost alone, setting in motion the tide of freedom, which, rolling 
from the Aroostook to the Rio del Norte, thunders its warnings in 
the ears of the million voters who have too long dallied in subser 
viency to the influence of slavery. 

The memoir which follows shows Mr. Seward still in the senate, 
yearly saluting new associates who displace those who have grown 
false to freedom and worthless to their constituents himself, in the 
judgment of all calm and candid observers, the foremost statesman of 
American Progress. 

THE SUCCESS of the whig party in 1848 was promoted by the 
expectation that it would prevent the introduction of slavery into 
the new territories where it was already prohibited by the Mexican 
laws. The representatives from the free states were understood to 
be pledged to that wise arid beneficent policy. It was assumed that 
the new president (Gen. Taylor) would not interpose the executive 
veto should that policy be adopted. Mr. Seward was committed in 
its favor, both by the circumstances of his election and the well 
known tenor of his political life. On the meeting of congress in 
1849 several whig members from the south apprehended the adop 
tion of that policy and refused to unite with their northern brethren 
in the election of a speaker. After delaying the organization of the 
house for a number of weeks they finally joined with their political 
opponents and elected a democratic speaker from one of the slave- 
holding states. 1 As soon as the house was organized, the southern 
party demanded the establishment of the new territories, without 
any condition as to the introduction of slavery. 

1 Howell Cobb of Georgia. He received 102 votes ; Mr. Winthrop of Massachusetts, 99 ; 
David Wilmot, 8 ; Scattering, 12. 


The representatives from the free states earnestly protested against 
this course. Mr. Se.ward took an active part in the opposition. 
Faithful to their convictions they insisted on the insertion of the 
Wilmot proviso (which was identical in its spirit with Mr. Jefferson s 
proviso in the ordinance of 1787) in any act ordaining the govern 
ment of the territories. President Taylor took a middle ground in 
his message to congress. He recommended that the territories 
should be left without any preliminary organization, under the 
existing Mexican laws, which forbade African bondage, until they 
should have obtained the requisite population to form voluntary 
constitutions and apply for admission as states of the Union. Cali 
fornia and New Mexico were already taking steps for this 
purpose. The recommendation of the president was condemned by 
the slave states while it met the approval of the friends of freedom. 
At an early period it was opposed by Mr. Clay. After great reserve 
and deliberation Mr. Webster subsequently declared his hostility to 
the proposed measure. Mr. Seward, who upheld the recommendation, 
thus became the leader of the administration party in both houses 
of congress. The antagonists of slavery with whom he cooperated, 
a minority in the senate, had a decided majority in the house of 
representatives. Each branch of congress became the scene of vehe 
ment debate. The slaveholding party indulged in such violent and 
inflammatory language as to threaten the derangement of pui: it- 
business and even the disorganization of congress. This party was 
sustained by the Nashville convention a body of southern delegates 
assembled for the purpose of adopting measures for the secession 
of the slave states from the Union. But neither President Taylor, 
nor Mr. Seward was intimidated by these proceedings. They both 
persisted in the course which was sanctioned alike by justice and 
conscience. Mr. Clay, on the other hand, believed the existence of 
the Union was at stake. Sustained by Mr. Webster he consented to 
adopt the non-intervention policy, the avowal of which by Gren. Cass 
had made him the candidate of the democratic party, in the recent 
presidential election. Mr. Clay now brought forward his famous 
compromise scheme and urged its adoption with all the force of his 
glowing and persuasive eloquence. Appealing to the sentiment of 
patriotism, to the prevailing attachment to the Union, and to the 
love of peace, he represented the acceptance of his measures as 
essential to the final settlement of the issues- which had grown out 


of the existence of slavery, in the United States. Mr. Clay s views 
were sustained by the leading advocates of slavery in congress. For 
the most part these belonged to the democratic party. They were 
pledged to insist on a congressional declaration of the right of slave 
holders to carry their slaves into any of the territories of the United 
States. But the compromise was opposed by most of the represen 
tatives of the free states, who were determined to make no further 
concessions than those involved in the position taken by President 
Taylor. The whigs of the slave states on the other hand gave 
the compromise their hearty support. It was defended also by the 
more especial or personal friends of Mr. Clay and Mr. Webster among 
the whigs of the north, as well as by a large portion of the demo 
cratic party in the free states. The more conservative classes in the 
great northern cities were induced to give it their support through 
fear of the loss of southern trade and patronage, and a growing 
discontent with the policy of the new administration. The friends 
of the compromise moreover endeavored to arouse the fears of the 
people by showing the danger of a dissolution of the Union which 
was threatened as they alleged by the policy of the president. 

Mr. Seward, of course, was denounced as a desperate and danger 
ous agitator. His resistance to the compromise was represented as 
contumacy. He was accused of wishing to obtain personal aggrand 
izement, even upon the ruins of the Constitution and the wreck of 
the Union. These reproaches were not without effect. They pro 
duced a partial division of the whig party in the free states, and 
awakened a prejudice in many quarters against the name of Mr. 
Seward. But he was not shaken from his steadfastness. With 
admirable firmness and self-possession he nobly resisted the current 
of popular agitation and congressional excitement. The dignity of 
his bearing and the wisdom of his counsels during the stormy period 
receive ample illustration from his speeches, as recorded in previous 
volumes of these works. 

The first applicant for admission into the Union was California, 
which had adopted a free constitution in a general convention. The 
friends of the compromise refused to grant her demand, except on 
certain stringent conditions. They insisted that congress should 
waive a prohibition of slavery in organizing the territories of Utah 

VOL. IV. 3 


and New Mexico, and at the same time enact a new and offensive law 
for the capture of fugitive slaves in the free states. 

Mr. Seward demanded the admission of California without con 
dition, without qualification and without compromise, leaving other 
subjects to distinct and independent legislation. No fair man, it 
would seem, could doubt the wisdom or justice of such a course. 
The partisans of the compromise contended that Utah and New 
Mexico should be organized without a prohibition of slavery, at the 
very moment when the latter was known to have adopted a free 
constitution and to have chosen representatives to ask an admission 
into the Union. On this question, Mr. Seward maintained that New 
Mexico should be admitted into the Union as a free state, or left to 
enjoy the protection from slavery afforded by existing Mexican laws. 

The fugitive slave law, which was proposed as a condition of the 
admission of California, met with a determined opponent in Mr. 
Seward, from the first. He clearly foresaw the impolicy as well as 
the cruelty of the contemplated measure. He argued with no less 
humanity than good faith, that no public exigency required a new 
law on the subject, that the bill in question was as unconstitutional 
as it was repugnant to every just sentiment, and that the principles 
and habits of the northern people would inevitably place insur 
mountable obstacles in the way of its execution. 1 Admitting the 
justice of these views, the compromisers demanded that they should 
be set aside lest the determination of slaveholders should lead to 
a dissolution of the Union. Mr. Seward was incapable of yielding 
to such unworthy terrors. He constantly passed them by, as too 
trivial for serious notice. At the same time he urgently pointed out 
the danger of quailing before the threats of the South. Knowing 
the disposition engendered by slavery, he insisted that any craven, 
truckling on the part of the free states would lead to unbounded 
aggressions by the slave power in the future. With prophetic saga 
city he was enabled to cast the horoscope of coming ills which have 
since been realized in the legislation concerning Nebraska and 

The compromisers regarded their measures as essential to the sup 
pression of slavery agitation in the national councils, and to the 
permanent tranquillity of the Union. Mr. Seward maintained pre- 

1 See Vol. I, pp. 65 and 348 ; also Vol. Ill, p. 445 


cisely the opposite views. He insisted that the extension of slavery 
was too great a price to pay even for the attainment of peace ; that 
a peace purchased on such terms would be only a hollow truce ; that it 
would be disturbed by new and deeper agitations ; that freedom and 
slavery were essentially antagonistic in their nature ; and that no 
reconciliation could be effectual until the latter should abandon its 
pretensions to new territories and new conquests. The soundness 
-of Mr. Se ward s opinions have been confirmed by subsequent events. 
The exciting congressional discussion of the subject continued for 
several months. Its effect was favorable to the policy of President 
Taylor and Mr. Seward. It promised to guaranty the establishment 
of free institutions, unvitiated by the presence of slavery, to the vast 
possessions between the organized states arid the Pacific ocean. 

An unforeseen casualty changed the fortunes of the conflict. Pre 
sident Taylor died in the month of July, 1850, and by the terms of 
the constitution Millard Fillmore, the vice-president, was advanced 
to the executive chair of the United States. A citizen of New York, 
ne had already exhibited symptoms of jealousy in regard to the 
influence of Mr. Seward a feeling which was shared by many of 
his triends. At the same time he was understood to concur with 
Mr. Seward in the general principles of policy which had guided the 
course of the latter on the slavery question. Mr. Seward advised 
the new president to retain the cabinet of President Taylor and 
endeavor to carry out his views. But this course was in direct 
opposition to the views of the compromisers. They urged the im 
portance of abandoning the policy hitherto pursued and of appoint 
ing a cabinet committed to their own. Mr. Fillmore accepted their 
advice. His administration was in reality founded on the principles 
of the party which his election had defeated. Of course, it relied for 
support on a coalition between members of that party and so many 
of his own as could be gained to his views. Soon after this change 
in the executive, many of the opponents of the compromise fell off 
from the side of Mr. Seward, while others attempted to steer a mid 
dle course, expressing themselves in language of moderation, or pre 
serving a total silence. 

Although the compromise bill itself, as introduced by Mr. Clay, 
was defeated, the measures which it embodied were submitted to a 
separate discussion, and successively passed. The whigs of the free 


states were thrown into perplexity by this sudden change. The 
coalition demanded the acceptance of the compromise as the final 
adjustment of the slavery controversy. 1 No favors were to be ex 
pected from the administration by those who failed to comply with 
the terms. A refusal was deemed sufficient evidence of disloyalty 
to the government and of hostility to the Union. But Mr. Seward 
was not influenced by the motives thus held out. 

His opposition to the compromise measures was unabated. He gave 
no heed to the denunciations of power. For the present, the vital ques 
tion had been settled in congress, and had now passed over to the tri 
bunal of the country. In fact, it waited the judgment of the civilized 
world. Mr. Seward, unwilling to expose himself for a moment to 
the danger of misapprehension, neglected no proper occasion to 
declare his adhesion to the principles which he had expressed 
throughout the congressional debates ; although he declined to 
engage in any defense or explanation of his course amid the excite 
ment of popular assemblies. 

The question of slavery, in its comprehensive bearings, formeci 
the turning point in the presidential canvass of 1852, which resulted 
in the election of Mr. Pierce, and at a subsequent period, in the abro 
gation of the Missouri compromise and the enactment of the Kansas 
and Nebraska bill. 

The national democratic convention which nominated Mr. Pierce, 
unanimously adopted a platform approving the compromise of 1850 
as the final decision of the slavery question. The whig party were 
widely divided on the question of acquiescence in the compromise 
measures, and still more at variance in regard to the claims of rival 
candidates for the presidency. Mr. Seward s friends in the free states 
united in the support of General Scott, who had, to a considerable 
extent, stood aloof from the agitations of the last few years. On the 
other hand, the exclusive supporters of the compromise, as a con 
dition of party allegiance, were divided between Millard Fillmore, at 
that time acting president, and Daniel Webster, secretary of state. 
The whig convention met in Baltimore on the 17th of June, 1852, 

1 The bill for the admission of California passed the senate by a vote of 34 to 18, and the 
house by 150 to 56. 

The fugitive slave act, in the senate, received 27 ayes to 12 nays. In the house, under the 
previous question, it passed without debate. Ayes, 109; nays, 75. 

The bill abolishing the slave trade in the District of Columbia passed the senate by 33 to 19 ; 
the house by 124 to 59. 

Mr. Seward moved a substitute for this bill, abolishing slavery itself in the District. It 
received only 5 votes. 


two weeks after the democratic convention, and nominated General 
Scott as their candidate for president. A large majority of the dele 
gates from New York and a considerable number from other states, 
maintained their opposition to the test resolutions which were pro 
posed by the other branch of the party. These resolutions, however, 
were adopted, and a platform was thus established resembling, in its 
main features, that of the democrats. 1 Many voted for it who may 
l>e presumed to have brought themselves to accept its principles, 
while others were doubtless influenced by their fears of a disruption 
of the party. Supported by several advocates of this new platform on 
the ground of his personal popularity, General Scott received the nomi 
nation. He was, however, regarded with great suspicion by a large 
number of whigs in the slaveholding states. It was feared that if he 
was elected to the presidency Mr. Seward would be called to the office 
of secretary of state, and thus exert a leading influence on the adminis 
tration. General Scott lost no time in attempting to remove these pre- 
judices; and in announcing his acceptance of the nomination, he 
promptly declared his adhesion to the principles of the platform adopted 
iDy the party. At the instance of the friends of the candidate, Mr. 
Seward disclaimed all private objects in connection with the election of 
General Scott, and with his characteristic frankness and fidelity to 
political associates, he publicly announced his determination to accept 
no office at the hands of the president in case of General Scott s 
success. This had been his course hitherto, and it would not be 
changed under a future administration. 11 

Many ardent friends of the compromise, notwithstanding, refused 
to rally around General Scott, distrusting his fidelity to the compro 
mise platform ; while a large number of the whigs of the free states, 
through aversion to the platform, assumed a neutral position or gave 
their support to a third candidate. 3 Another portion of the whig 
party nominated Mr. Webster, who died, 4 not only refusing to de- 
cline the nomination, but openly avowing his disgust with the action 
of the party. 

Mr. Seward and his friends could not so far belie their convic 
tions as to approve the principles of the platform, but yielded their 

1 The platform was adopted by a vote of 227 to 60. The first ballot for president stood: Fill- 
more. 132; Scott. 131 : Webster, 29. The 53d and last: Scott, 159; Fillmore, 112 ; Webster, 21. 

2 See Vol. Ill, p. 416. 

3 A convention of the free democracy, at Pittsbnrg, nominated John P. Hale for president, and 
Geo. W. Julian for vice-president, and declared in favor of " free soil, free laud, internal im 
provements," &c. 

4 October 24, 1852. 


support to General Scott in the manner which, in their opinion, was 
best adapted to secure his election and defeat the ultra pro-slavery 
party. The result, however, was what might have been expected. 
The democratic party, forgetting its past divisions, at least for the 
time, supported Mr. Pierce with unanimity aad zeal, giving him the 
electoral votes of twenty-seven of the thirty-one states. 1 

The loud exultations of the prevailing party, as well as of those 
whigs who had sympathized with it during the canvass, showed 
their belief that, in the defeat of General Scott, Mr. Seward was not 
only overthrown, but politically annihilated. The whig party, also,, 
was, in their opinion, forever destroyed, at least as an enemy of the 
slave power. Many prominent members of that party took an early 
opportunity of offering their support to Mr. Pierce s administration, 
while others more secretly, but no less efficiently, gave their aid to 
its policy. 

It was under these discouraging circumstances that Mr. Seward re 
sumed his seat in the senate at the opening of the second session of the 
thirty -second congress, in December, 1852. But neither his speeches 
nor his public conduct were colored by the remembrance of the recent 
disastrous struggle. No traces of disappointment were visible in his 
bearing, and he at once devoted himself to the business of the session 
with the same calmness and assiduity which had always marked his 
congressional career. His speeches during this session were on ques 
tions of great practical interest. His remarks in the debate on " Con 
tinental Eights and Relations," although grave and forcible, were 
interspersed with incidental touches of effective satire ; and included 
a graceful and feeling tribute to the character of John Quincy Adams. 2 
On the proposal "to abolish or suspend the duty on railroad iron," 
Mr. Seward addressed the senate iu one of his most characteristic 
speeches, 3 warning the country of the danger of an approaching 
revulsion in railroad and financial affairs generally, which proved no 
less just than prophetic. The revulsion predicted actually occurred 
in 1857. This, and the other speeches made by him during the 
session, were marked by an admirable union of statistical narrative, 
general reasoning and lofty sentiments. 4 

1 The states which voted for General Scott were Vermont, Massachusetts, Tennessee and 
Kentucky. In the free states Mr. Pierce received 1,156,513 votes, General Scott 1.038.757, John P, 
llle 157,685. 2 See Vol. Ill, p. 605. 3 See Vol. Ill, p. (556. 

4 Theae speeches are briefly noticed in the concluding pages of the Memoir, in Vol. I. 


After an extra session of five weeks duration, the senate, on the 
llth day of April, 1853, adjourned. Mr. Seward was occupied 
most of the summer in the courts of the United States. 

He, however, found time during the recess to prepare and deliver 
two addresses of remarkable power and beauty. The first, at the dedi 
cation of a university at Columbus, Ohio, rises to the dignity of an 
oration. 1 In it he pleads eloquently the cause of Human Nature as 
especially committed to the care of the people of the United States. 
" To disseminate knowledge and to increase virtue," he maintains, 
"is to establish the principles on which the recovery and preservation 
of the inherent rights of man depend, and the state that does this most 
faithfully, advances most effectually the cause of Human Nature." 

In October, he delivered the annual address before the American 
Institute, in the city of New York. 1 This is a stirring appeal to the 
American people to rise to a higher tone of individual and national 
independence in thought, sentiment and action. u Let this prevail," 
he says, "and we shall cease to undervalue our own farmers, me 
chanics and manufacturers, and their productions; our own science 
and literature; in short, our own infinite resources and our own 
peculiar and justly envied freedom." 

Both of these productions possess merit and interest of a perma 
nent character. 

On the first Monday in December, 1853, the first congress under 
Mr. Pierce s administration assembled. 2 It commenced deliberations 
under inaugural promises which seemed either designedly delusive 
or promulgated with an imbecility of purpose unworthy a chief 
magistrate. High expectations of much beneficent legislation had 
been formed. Among the measures which it was anticipated would 
come up for consideration were the modification of the tariff so as to 
enlarge the field of national industry ; the construction of a railroad 
between the Atlantic and Pacific states ; the substitution of a system 
of gratuitous allotments of land in limited quantities to actual settlers, 
instead of the policy of sales of the public domain ; the improve 
ment and reform of the army and navy ; the regulation of the com 
mercial marine in regard to immigrant passengers; the endowment 
of the states with portions of the public lands as a provision for the 

1 See present volume. 

2 Linn Boyd (democrat) was elected Speaker by 143 votes to 74 for all others. In the senate, 
the administration was proportionately strong. 

24 M E M O I K . 

care of the insane within their limits ; the establishment of steam 
mails on the Pacific ocean ; and the opening of political and com 
mercial relations with Japan. 

Mr. Seward addressed himself to the accomplishment of these 
important objects with his accustomed diligence and zeal. He intro 
duced early in the session a bill for the construction of a railroad to 
the Pacific ; and another for the establishment of steam mails between 
San Francisco and the Sandwich Islands, Japan, and China. The 
times seemed favorable for such legislation. The public treasury 
was overflowing. The slavery agitation apparently had died away 
both in congress and throughout the country. This calm, however, 
was doomed to a sudden interruption. The prospect of such extended 
beneficent legislation was destroyed by the introduction of a measure 
which at once supplanted all other subjects in congress and in the 
political interest of the people. This was the novel and astounding 
proposal of Mr. Douglas, in relation to the Kansas and Nebraska 
territories. The country saw with regret and mortification the home 
stead bill transformed into one of mere graduation of the prices 
of the public lands. The bills for the improvement of the army and 
navy, and the bill for regulating the transportation of immigrants, 
were dropped before coming to maturity. The bill for a grant of 
land to the states in aid of the insane was defeated in the senate for 
the want of a constitutional majority, after having been vetoed by 
the president. The bill for establishing the Pacific railroad was lost 
for want of time to debate it; and the bill for opening steam com 
munication with the East, after passing the senate, failed in the house 
for want of consideration. Everything gave way to the renewed 
agitation of the slavery question an agitation precipitated on an 
astounded nation by southern influence, yet for which the north has 
been held accountable ever since, by orators and presses devoted to 
slave predominance in public affairs, with a persistency that could be 
called adroit if it were not so obviously false. 

The administration had a majority of nearly two to one in both 
houses ; and the opponents of introducing slavery into the free terri 
tories constituted less than one-fifth of the senate, and were in a 
decided minority in the house. 1 

1 At the beginning of the session the house was classified, politically, democrats 159, whigs 71. 
freesoilers 4 : the senate, democrats 36, whigs 20, freesoilers 2. 


The measure, already alluded to, which produced this sudden 
derangement in congress, was a provision in the bill for the organi 
zation of a territory in Nebraska, declaring that the states which 
might at any future time be formed in the new territory should leave 
the question of slavery to be decided by the inhabitants thereof on 
the adoption of their constitution. This provision was, as explained 
by the bill itself, the application of the compromise policy of 1850 
to Nebraska, and, as was evident, virtually repealed the Missouri 
compromise of 1820, which guarantied that slavery should be forever 
excluded from the territory in question. 

But, in order to bring the supporters of the bill and its opponents 
to a more decided test, an amendment was moved expressly annulling 
that portion of the Missouri compromise which related to the subject. 
Mr. Douglas, after some deliberation, accepted the amendment, and 
modified his plan so far as to introduce a new bill for the organiza 
tion of Nebraska and Kansas within the same limits, instead of the 
territory of Nebraska alone, according to the original programme. 

The administration lost no time in adopting this policy as their 
own. It was at first proposed to hasten the passage of the bill 
through both houses so rapidly as to prevent any remonstrance on 
the part of the people. But the opponents of the measure, including \ 
Mr. Seward, Mr. Chase, Mr. Sumner, Mr. Truman Smith, Mr. Wade, l 
Mr. Everett, Mr. Bell, Mr. Houston and Mr. Fessenden combined! 
against it such an earnest and effective resistance that the attention^ 
of the country was aroused, and an indignant protest called forth 
from the people of the free states. The bill, however, passed the 
senate on the 4th day of March, 1854, after a discussion which had 
occupied nearly every day of the session since the 23d of January. 1 

Of the fourteen senators from free states who voted for the bill 
only three Messrs Douglas, Gwin, and Thompson of New Jersey 
have been reflected, the others having been succeeded by reliable 
opponents of the slave power. Of the twelve from free states who 
voted against it, six have been reflected, and the places of the others 
have been filled by republicans, with one exception. 2 

i The vote stood as follows : l r eos~- Adams. Atchison, Bayard. Badger, Benjamin, Brodhead, 
Brown, Butler, Cass, Clay, Dawson, Dixon. Dodge of Iowa. Douglas, Evans, Fitzpatrick, Geyer, 
Gwin, Hunter. Johnson, Jones of Iowa, Jones of Tennessee, Mason. Morton, Norris, Pettit, 
Pratt, Kusk. Sebastian, Shields, Slidell, Stuart. Thompson of Kentucky. Thompson of New 
Jersey, Toucey, Weller, Williams 37 : Nays Bell, Chase, Dodge of Wisconsin, Fessenden, 
Fieh. Foot, Hamlin. Houston, James. Seward. Smith. Sumner. Wade. Walker 14. 

2 Mr. Pugh, Democrat, by the vote of A Legislature, elected before the agitation began, 
succeeded Mr. Chase, Republican, who ha* in turn been recently chosen to succeed Mr. Pugh. 


The bill as it passed the senate contained a provision, known 
as " Clayton s amendment," restricting the right of suffrage in the 
territories to citizens and those who had declared their intentions 
to become such. 

On the 21st of March, Mr. Richardson of Illinois, in the house, 
moved to refer the bill, as it came from the senate, to the committee 
on territories, of which he was the chairman. Mr. Francis b. Cutting 
of New York, moved that it be sent to the committee of the whole 
where it could be freely discussed. His motion was carried, after a 
severe struggle, by a vote of 110 to 95. This was regarded as a 
triumph of the enemies of the bill and inspired hopes of its ultimate 
defeat in the house. 

On the 22d of May, after a most exciting contest, lasting nearly 
two months, in committee of the whole, Mr. Alex. II. Stephens of 
Georgia, by an extraordinary stratagem in parliamentary tactics- 
succeeded in closing the debate and bringing the bill to a vote in the 
house, where it finally passed, before adjournment, by a vote of 113 
to 100. 1 

As the bill passed the house it differed from the one that came 
from the senate, chiefly, in being divested of Mr. Clayton s amend 
ment, excluding aliens from voting. It was therefore necessary that 
it should go back to the senate to be again considered and voted upon. 

On the 24th of May, two days after it passed the house, the senate, 
on motion of Mr. Douglas, proceeded to act upon the bill. 

Mr. Pearce of Maryland, renewed Mr. Clayton s amendment, but 
it now received only seven votes Messrs. Bayard, Bell, Brodhead, 
Brown, Clayton, Pearce, and Thompson of Kentucky. 

The bill was met on its return by Messrs. Seward, Sumner and 
Chase with a continued and powerful opposition. But it was all to 
no effect. The bill again passed the senate by a vote of 35 to 13 ; 
and amid the firing of cannon and the shouting of its friends, it was 
sent to the president for his signature, at three o clock in the morn 
ing of May 26, 1854. President Pierce promptly gave it his approval, 
and the odious measure became the law of the land. 

i Amon the Democrats who voted in the minority were Messrs. Banks of Massachusetts, 
Davis of Rhode Island, Fcnton of New York, Grow of Pennsylvania, Jones of New York, Went- 
worth of Illinois, and several others who have since returned to the democratic party. From, 
the south Messrs Benton of Missouri, Cullom, Etheridge and Taylor of Tennessee, Hunt of 
Louisiana, Millson of Virginia, Puryear and Rogers of North Carolina, voted against the mea 
sures. With these exceptions the bill was supported by the democrats of the north and south 
and the southern whigs. 


Thus was abrogated the Missouri compromise a law enacted thirty 
years before with all the solemnity of a compact between the free- 
and the slave states and a territory as large as the thirteen original 
states opened to slavery. The act was consummated by the coopera 
tion of the north. Originating with a senator from a free state, it 
was passed by a congress containing in each branch a majority of 
members from the free states, and was sanctioned by the approval 
of a free state president. 

The friends of this legislation attempted to defend it on the pre 
tence that it was not an original act, but only declaratory of the true 
intent and significance of the compromise measures of 1850. For 
his resistance to those measures, Mr. Seward had been vehemently 
denounced. But at the very commencement of the Nebraska strug 
gle, the friends of freedom at the north turned their eyes toward 
him as their devoted champion. He was beset with appeals on all 
sides to awaken the country to the atrocity of the proposed transac 
tion. In no quarter were these appeals more urgent than in the city 
of New York, where his opposition to the compromise of 1850 had 
been most severely condemned. With his usual sagacity and confi 
dence in the popular impulse, and faithful to his innate sense of 
personal dignity, he kept aloof from these overtures, and was content 
with the zealous discharge of his senatorial duties on the floor of 
congress. A characteristic letter, in reply to an invitation to address- 
a public meeting in the city of New York, in the midst of the excite 
ment, will be found in this volume. He closes his letter with these 
words : 

" I beg you to be assured that, while declining to go into popular assemblies as an 
agitator, I shall endeavor to do my duty here, with as many true men as shall be 
found in a delegation which, if all were firm and united in the maintenance of 
public right and justice, would be able to control the decision of this question. 
But the measure of success and effect which shall crown our exertions must depend 
now, as heretofore, on the fidelity with which the people whom we represent shall 
adhere to the policy and principles which are the foundation of their own unri 
valled prosperity and greatness." 

The pledges given in this letter were nobly fulfilled. The first 
of his speeches on the Nebraska bill was a profound and dispassion 
ate statement of the whole argument against the measure, alike 
remarkable for compact narrative and logical arrangement. Though 


it failed of preventing the accomplishment of the measure in con 
gress, it acted with magnetic power on the people of the free states, 
arousing them to a spirit of unconquerable resistance to the aggres 
sions of shivery. The conclusion of this speech, as we read it now, 
seems like the prophecy of inspiration. Its last words were : " There 
" is a Superior Power that overrules all your actions and all your 
" refusals to act, and I fondly hope and trust overrules them to the 
" k advancement of the happiness, greatness and glory of our country 
" that overrules, I know, not only all your actions and all your refu- 
" sals to act, but all human events, to the distant but inevitable result 
" of the equal and universal liberty of all men." 

It was a gloomy night for the lovers of freedom when the tele 
graphic despatches flashed throughout the country, announcing that 
the ill-omened bill was on its final reading in the senate. Mr. Sew- 
ard chose that hour of intense excitement to close the debate on his 
part. The commencement of his speech was solemn and impressive. 
He reviewed the sophistries which had been offered in defense of 
the bill with a clearness and power that might almost have arrested 
its progress even on the verge of enactment. Presenting to the free 
states the evidences of their ability to procure a repeal of the law, 
he urged, by conclusive arguments, the importance of such a step, 
and, at the same time, luminously expounded the methods of exclu 
ding slavery from Nebraska, Kansas, and the vast unsettled regions 
of the west, by aiding and promoting a rapid and systematic emigra 
tion into the territories in question. The effect of this speech was 
cheering in the extreme. It threw a rainbow across the dark cloud 
that hung over the country. The auspicious omen was accepted ; 
and the faith of the people has since been rewarded by the most 
gratifying results. 1 

Besides these two important speeches, Mr. Seward made several 
other elaborate efforts in the senate during this eventful session. 
One, on the bill granting lands to the several states for the relief of 
the indigent insane, is deserving of especial notice. This measure 
(known as " Miss Dix s bill for the insane") had passed both houses, 3 
and been returned to the senate by the president with a veto message 

i An Emigrant Aid Society was immediately formed in Washington among members of con 
gress, and others soon sprang up in New England and various parts of the country. 

* In the senate it received 35 votes, with but 12 against it. In the house the yeas were 81, the 
nays 93. 


Mr. Seward s remarks were devoted mainly to a review of the presi 
dent s message, which he characterized as desultory, illogical and 
confused. He concludes with an eloquent and pertinent vindication 
of the rights and interests of the individual states of the Union. He 
desired " not to abate the federal strength and diminish the majesty 
of the Union, but to invigorate and aggrandize the states, and to- 
enable them to maintain their just equilibrium in one grand but 
exquisitely contrived political system." The bill failed to pass over 
the president s veto, and has never since been successfully revived. 

Mr. Seward advocated, at different times during the session, a 
system of postal reform. But this, like other measures of public 
benefit, was lost amid the general wreck. He was especially desi 
rous of securing greater expedition and safety in the transmission 
of the mails between the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. A proposition 
to give one hundred thousand dollars to the brave sailors who res 
cued the survivors of the wreck of the steamer San Francisco, lost, 
at sea with two hundred and forty lives on the 5th of January, 1854 r 
received his support. His speech in its behalf was characterized by 
a generous humanity as well as by sound views of public policy. 

The project of acquiring Cuba was broached in the senate soon 
after the passage of the Nebraska bill. Mr. Seward sp*ke at some 
length on the Africanization of the island. He opposed the bill to- 
suspend the duties on railroad iron, as contrary to a wise and sound 

The homestead bill always found in Mr. Seward a steady supporter* 
In a speech made on the 12th of July, 1854, in defense of this 
measure, he took occasion to express his views very freely on what 
was then called * know nothingism." 

In the debate on " appropriations for the improvement of rivers 
and harbors," Mr. Seward energetically contended for the interests 
of commerce and navigation on the great lakes, reviewing severely 
the president s veto of a previous bill. 

During the discussion of the Kansas and Nebraska bill in the 
house of representatives, a memorial remonstrating against the repeal 
of the Missouri compromise signed by three thousand and fifty 
clergymen of New England, was presented to the senate by Edward 
Everett. Mr. Douglas and other senators attacked this memorial 
with great violence, severely criticising its language, questioning its 
propriety and denying the claim of its authors to a hearing in the 


senate. Mr. Seward, maintaining the right of petition on its broadest 
grounds, defended the course of the memorialists, and in a brief 
speech sustained his positions with his accustomed vigor and acumen. 
After a spirited debate the petition was received in the usual manner 
and laid on the table. But the dignified defense of the remonstrants, 
made by Mr. Seward, was remembered with favor by the lovers of 
justice and freedom of conscience in all parts of the country. 

Two unusually important treaties were ratified by the senate, in 
executive or secret session, during this meeting of congress. One is 
known as the " Gadsden treaty " for the settlement of our relations 
with Mexico, and the other as the " reciprocity treaty " for the regu 
lation of trade between Canada and the United States. Mr. Seward 
is understood to have opposed the former, while he gave his support 
to the latter. 

Just before the adjournment of congress (on the 26th of July, 
1854) Mr. Seward delivered the annual oration before the Phi Beta 
Kappa society of Yale college, on which occasion he received the 
honorary degree of doctor of laws. The subject of his discourse 
was, "the physical, moral and intellectual development of the 
American people," 1 which he treated with great discrimination and 
vigorous eloquence, commanding the admiration of a highly intellec 
tual audience and strengthening his well earned title to oratorical fame. 

After an arduous session of more than eight months, congress 
adjourned on the 7th of August, 1854. In October, following, Mr. 
Seward made an elaborate argument in the circuit court of the 
United States at Albany, in the celebrated McCormick reaper case. 

The state elections, in the autumn, in all the free states, resulted 
in a decided verdict against the extraordinary legislation of congress 
and the action of the administration. Only seventy-nine members 
were elected, in all the states, to the next congress who were known 
as friends of the president s policy, 2 while one hundred and seventeen 
were chosen as decided opponents of the repeal of the Missouri com 
promise. The remaining thirty-seven members, classed as whigs or 
Americans, were generally supposed to sympathize with the admin 
istration in its pro-slavery character, although unwilling to be classed 
as its friends. 

1 See present volume for this oration and the speeches before noticed. 

2 At the election for speaker the administration candidate, Mr. Richardson, the father of the 
Nebraska bill in the house, at the previous session, received on the first ballot 74 votes. 



The second and last session of the thirty- third congress met on the 
first Monday in December, 1854. A manifestly subdued temper on 
the part of the majority and the absence of any exciting topic for 
discussion gave hopes of much healthful legislation, only however 
to be disappointed. 

Mr. Seward, with his accustomed assiduity, turned his attention to 
the task of rescuing from the ruins some of the beneficent measures 
sacrificed to the interests of slavery at the last session. Among 
these the Pacific railroad, the improvement of rivers and harbors 
and the revision of the tariff may be especially mentioned. Mr. 
Seward was the author of a bill, introduced by him at the pre 
vious session, for the construction of a railroad to the Pacific ocean, 
which seemed more practical in its character than any yet con 

A bill to increase the compensation of members of congress and 
to raise the salaries of the judges of the supreme court was intro 
duced early in the session. Mr. Seward opposed both propositions. 
In a speech on the " extension of the bounty land law " he paid an 
eloquent tribute to the volunteers and militia who had served in the 
wars of the United States, and advocated an amendment providing 
that they should be included in the benefits of the law the same as 
officers and soldiers of the regular army. On presenting a memorial 
from the unemployed workmen of the city of New York in favor 
of a homestead law, Mr. Seward feelingly portrayed the distress 
he had himself recently witnessed among the industrial classes in the 
large cities, and urged the passage of the homestead bill as a wise and 
inexpensive measure of relief. 

His remarks on internal improvements, during the debate on the 
bill making appropriations for the improvement of rivers and har 
bors, and his speeches in favor of the Pacific railroad all abound 
with the most liberal and statesmanlike ideas ; while those in opposi 
tion to reducing the tariff on American products and manufactures 
are consistent with the principles he has always maintained. 

Mr. Seward insisted on the payment of the Texas debts as an obli 
gation entered into by our government which could not now be 
honorably repudiated, however unwise that obligation may have 
been when it was assumed. 

He was the early and steadfast friend of mail steamers on the 
Atlantic and Pacific oceans. His speech on the 27th of February, 


1855, although brief, clearly presents the reasons why our govern 
ment should continue to employ first class steamships in its mail 
service. Mr. Seward opposed the bill granting three years credit on 
duties on railroad iron. He maintained that it was impolitic and 
wrong to stimulate an enterprise already unduly expanded. The 
wisdom of his words has been verified by the remarkable deprecia 
tion of railroad shares. 

A misunderstanding having arisen among the merchants of New 
York in regard to a bill introduced at the last session, by Senator 
Fish, relating to immigrant passenger ships, Mr. Seward in a grace 
ful speech defended his colleague from any negligence in the matter, 
Mr. Fish being then absent from the country seeking the restoration 
of his health. 

Near the close of the session, Senator Toucey introduced a bill 
designed to strengthen the already rigid features of the fugitive slave 
act of 1850. It provided that all suits growing out of the enforce 
ment of that act might be removed from any state court, in which 
they had been commenced, to the federal courts. On the 26th of 
May, 1854, the day on which the Nebraska bill passed, Anthony 
Burns, a fugitive slave from Virginia, had been arrested in Boston by 
the officers of the federal government. In an unsuccessful attempt by 
the people to rescue him from the hands of the marshal and his depu 
ties, one of the latter was killed. The fugitive, having been declared 
by the commissioner to be a slave, was conducted from the court house 
to a revenue cutter in the harbor by a company of marines and 
"United States soldiers, assisted by the volunteer militia of the city of 
Boston. Cannon loaded with grape shot were planted in command 
ing positions to preserve order, and the court house, surrounded by 
chains, was guarded by an armed police. During this extraordinary 
scene many acts of tyranny were practiced by the federal officers on the 
people occupying or passing through the streets. The civil and 
criminal prosecutions growing out of such acts were commenced in 
the courts of Massachusetts. One of the objects of Mr. Toucey s 
bill was to change the jurisdiction from these tribunals to the courts 
of the United States. 

Mr. Seward aroused the attention of the senate and of the country 
to the enormous usurpation which the bill proposed, in a speech of 
stirring eloquence ; reviewing the recent startling encroachments of 


despotism and characterising the present one as more bold and alarm 
ing than any that had preceded it. 1 Other senators from the free 
states followed him in denouncing it, in terms no less severe and 

Mr. Sumner, at the close of an eloquent speech against the bill, 
moved, as an amendment, a substitute for the whole bill, repealing the 
fugitive slave act of 1850. Mr. Seward gladly availed himself of 
the opportunity to record his vote in favor of the repeal of that 
odious act; but the proposition could then command only nine 
affirmative votes, Messrs. Brainerd of Vermont, Chase of Ohio, 
Cooper of Pennsylvania, Fessenden of Maine, Gillette of Connecti 
cut, Seward of New York, Sumner of Massachusetts, Wade of Ohio, 
and Wilson of Massachusetts. 

Mr. Toucey s bill, after a most animated discussion, passed the 
senate at midnight by a vote of 29 to 9. Owing to the lateness of 
the session its consideration in the house was never reached ; nor 
has it since been revived. The days of the thirty-third congress 
were now numbered, and on the 3d of March, 1855, both houses 
adjourned sine die. 

This congress, the first under Mr. Pierce s administration, will long 
be memorable not only for its entire failure to accomplish any great 
and beneficent acts of legislation, but also for having deliberately 
re-opened a discussion of the slavery question whose ultimate con 
sequences and collateral results no prophet can foresee. 

With this congress, Mr. Seward s first senatorial term expired. 
His individual interests and personal feelings led him to prefer a re 
turn to private life. But higher considerations prevailed, and he 
consented to be a candidate for reelection. His views on this subject 
were well expressed in a letter to John Quincy Adams in 1841, and 
substantially repeated to those who now felt, as he thought, an undue 
anxiety that he should be reflected. He says in his letter to his 
venerable friend : "As for the future, I await its developments with 
out concern, conscious that if my services are needed, they will be 
demanded, if not needed that it would be neither patriotic nor con 
ducive to my own happiness to be in public life ; " sentiments whose 
unaffected modesty of utterance, yet epigrammatic beauty, would, if 
found in Roman history, attract the admiration of the world. 

i Mr. Seward s speeches on this, and other bills hefore noticed, will be found in succeeding 
pages of the present volume. 

VOL. IV 5 


The election of members of the legislature in the state of New 
York in the autumn of 1854, was held in view of the fact that they 
would be called at the coming session to elect a senator of the United 

The reelection of Mr. Seward, of course, formed a prominent ques 
tion in the canvass. The element of "kfiow nothingism" or 
"Americanism," also greatly influenced the election of the members 
of the Assembly as well as of the various state officers chosen at the 
same time. To some extent the issue was, from this cause, confused 
and the result uncertain. Mr. Seward s whole life had been in op 
position to secret societies and to any limitation of the political rights 
of the people. The new party, now at its height, was founded as he 
believed, substantially, on ideas directly in conflict with his matured 
convictions. At a time when other statesmen were courting the new 
element or being reticent before its influence, Mr. Seward, in the 
senate, frankly expressed his opposition to these secret political 
organizations. With such circumstances and antagonisms to over 
come, with a combination of democrats and Americans against him, 
his past services, his devotion to the cause of freedom and hu 
manity, and his fidelity to all the great interests of his native state 
and the country, were submitted to the people of New York for their 

The election took place on the first Tuesday in November, and was 
contested with unusual vigor throughout the state. Although the 
democrats succeeded in electing but forty -two members of the assem 
bly out of one hundred and twenty-eight, loud boasts were made by 
the opponents of Mr. Seward that he could not be reflected. The 
most industrious efforts were made to excite new animosities and 
revive old prejudices against him in order to defeat his reelection. 
The authors of these efforts and the character of their weapons were 
various. One spirit, however, animated the whole. The slave power 
projected or applauded every shaft of calumny that was directed at 
the object of its greatest fear. 

The legislature met on the first Tuesday in January, 1855. The 
assembly chose Mr. Littlejohn speaker, eighty to thirty-eight. The 
senate, which held over from the last year, was divided, whigs eigh 
teen, democrats ten, know nothings four. Before the day appointed 
for the election of senator, a discussion arose in the assembly, in 


which Mr. Seward s public life was subjected to a searching review. 
As this debate proceeded his friends felt an increasing confidence in 
his success. At the same time his opponents, with apparent sincerity, 
continued to assert that his election by the present legislature was 
impossible. Under these circumstances the excitement rose to a great 
height. Throughout the Union the contest was regarded as one be 
tween freedom and slavery. 

On the first Tuesday in February the election took place. In the 
senate Mr. Seward received eighteen votes, Daniel S. Dickinson five, 
W. F. Allen two, Millard Fillmore, Ogden Hoffman, Preston King, 
Daniel Ullman, George K. Babcock, and S. E. Church one each. 

In the assembly the vote stood, for Mr. Seward sixty-nine, Mr. 
Dickinson fourteen, Horatio Seymour twelve, Washington Hunt nine, 
John A. Dix seven, Mr. Fillmore four, and eleven others one each. 

The senate and assembly then in joint session compared nomina 
tions and the lieutenant-governor declared William H. Seward duly 
elected a senator of the United States for six years from the 4th of 
March, 1855. 

This announcement soon reached every part of the Union, and in 
all the free states it was received with demonstrations of joy and 
approval. In Washington the rejoicing among Mr. Seward s politi 
cal and personal friends, in congress, and among the people of that 
city, was no less enthusiastic and sincere than in other portions of 
the country. 

On his return to his home in Auburn, Mr. Seward was everywhere 
greeted with the hearty congratulations of his friends. He, however, 
declined the various public ovations tendered to him in different 

During the canvass for the annual state election in the autumn of 
1855, Mr. Seward, at the earnest solicitation of his political friends, 
addressed the people at Albany, Auburn and Buffalo. These 
speeches are standard political dissertations. They produced a 
marked effect, not only in his own state but throughout the country. 
President Pierce in his annual message to congress saw fit to allude 
to some of the sentiments contained in the one delivered in the 
capitol at Albany. This speech entitled " The danger of extending 
slavery," or " The privileged class," and the one delivered at Buffalo, 


" The contest and the crisis," were very widely circulated in news 
papers and pamphlets. 

On the 22d of December, 1855, Mr. Seward delivered the annual 
oration at Plymouth, Massachusetts, in commemoration of the land 
ing of the pilgrims. At the dinner table he also made a brief but 
eloquent speech in response to a complimentary sentiment. His 
large and cultivated audience gave repeated expressions of their 
sympathy and delight, with the sentiments of the oration and the 
speech. 1 

The summer of 1855 seemed to be marked by a number of occur 
rences showing the aggressive and tyrannical spirit of the slave power. 
On the 27th of July, Passmore Williamson, a respectable and benevolent 
citizen of Philadelphia, was thrown into prison in that city and con 
fined fourteen weeks. He was charged with a "contempt of court." 
The facts of the case were, briefly, these : a Mr. Wheeler came from 
a slave state into Pennsylvania, bringing with him a slave woman, 
who became, by the laws of Pennsylvania, free on being brought 
into the state. This fact was communicated to her by Mr. William 
son, and she immediately left her master, never to return. In a suit 
growing out of these circumstances, Mr. Williamson, in his answer 
to a writ of habeas corpus, stated what he deemed to be the truth in 
the case. Judge Kane pronounced his reply a contempt of court, 
and sent him to prison. 

A similar case occurred in New York some time previous, show 
ing the same determination of the south to extend slavery over the 
free states of the north. A Mr. Lernmon, traveling from Virginia 

1 The following notice of the celebration and oration is taken from one of the newspapers of 
the day : Plymouth was thronged on the 21st of December. The celebration was the most im 
pressive and spirited of any which the descendants of those valiant men have made. The 
" Rock " was carefully dug out for the occasion. The relics of the Mayflower and the memen 
toes of her passage across the ocean, and her priceless freight and great mission, were displayed 
in pilgrims 1 hall. The streets were filled with strangers, arrived from the vicinity of Plymouth 
not only, but from remote states. 

A procession with music, religious exercises in a church, an oration, a costly and most gen 
erous dinner-feast with toasts and speeches, and a ball in the evening constituted the celebration. 
Of the oration delivered by Governor Seward, we need but to say that it is the expression of 
that statesman s philosophy and policy. 

Among the incidents of the dinner table, Wendell Phillips declared that he would not ac 
knowledge the right of Plymouth to the " Rock." " It underlies " said he " the whole country 
and only crops out here. It cropped out where Putnam said" Don t fire, boys, until you see the 
whites of their eyes." It showed itself where Ingraham rescued Martin Kotsza from Austrian 
despotism. Jeflerson used it for his writing-desk, and Lovejoy levelled his musket across it at 
Alton. I recognized the clink of it to-day when the great apostle of the higher law laid his 
beautiful garland upon the sacred altar." [Mr. Seward remarked that he was not a descendant 
of the pilgrims of the Mayflower.] " He says he is not descended from the Mayflower," resumed 
Mr. Phillips; " that is a mistake. There is such a thing as pedigree of mind as well as of body." 


to Texas, with eight slaves, sailed from Norfolk to the city of New 
York, intending there to tranship his family and property to Texas. 
His slaves were, like the woman in Philadelphia, restored to free 
dom by the laws of the state in which they were domiciled. An. 
expensive litigation was immediately commenced by the state of 
Virginia against the state of New York, which is not yet con 
cluded. 1 

The state courts of primary and final resort have confirmed the 
right of the slaves to their freedom, but an appeal has been entered 
to the supreme court of the United States. The democratic judges de 
livered dissenting opinions accepting the new dogma that slaves are 
property under the constitution. Their ideas were foreshadowed by 
the counsel for Virginia, 2 who reiterated in the court room the 
.same plea for the justice and beneficence of African slavery which 
he had a month before presented at a public meeting in New York. 

But the country was soon agitated by acts of yet greater atrocity 
and of more public interest. Soon after the adjournment of congress 
.systematic efforts began to be made by the south to make Kansas a 
slave state. The means adopted, and the outrages, arsons and mur 
ders committed in the attempt, are still recent and well impressed on 
the public mind. 

At the first election in the territory (March 30, 1855), large par 
ties of armed intruders from Missouri took possession of the polls 
and returned such members to the territorial legislature as would 
carry out the pro-slavery plans. Of the 2,905 voters in the territory 
.according to the census, only 831 voted, while 4,908 illegal votes 
were polled by the Missourians. 

Governor Keeder, appointed by President Pierce, was removed 
from his office by the same power that had appointed him, for refus 
ing to countenance the frauds and outrages of the pro-slavery mob. 

The legislature, chosen in this fraudulent manner, passed acts, 
among others, making it a capital offense to assist slaves either in 
escaping into the territory or out of it ; and felony, punishable with 
imprisonment for from two to five years, to circulate anti-slavery 
publications or to deny the right to ,hold slaves in the territory ; 
requiring all voters, officers and attorneys to take an oath to support 

1 These cases seem to warrant sufficiently Mr. Seward s apprehension that the result of the 
.slavery aggressions unchecked, will be, the spread of slavery over all the free states, as expressed 
in his Rochester speech. See present volume. 

2 Charles O Conor, Esq. 


the fugitive slave law and all the acts of this pretended legislature; 
giving the selection of jurors to the sheriff; and admitting any person 
to vote who should pay one dollar, poll tax, whether a resident of 
the territory or not. They also adopted, in gross, the Missouri code 
of laws. 

A convention of delegates, chosen by the real inhabitants of the 
territory, was held at Topeka in October, 1855, which adopted a free 
state constitution to be submitted to the people for approval. This 
constitution was subsequently adopted by the almost unanimous vote 
of the settlers. Under this constitution Charles Eobinson was 
elected governor and a state government organized. President 
Pierce, however, in a special message to congress in January, 1856 r 
indorsed the fraudulent legislature and denounced the formation of 
the Topeka government as an act of rebellion. 

Innumerable outrages continued to be perpetrated on the persons 
and property of the free state settlers by Missourians and others, 
although the president declared in his annual message, on the 28th 
of December, " that nothing had occurred in Kansas to warrant his 

The thirty -fourth congress assembled on its usual day, in Decem 
ber, 1855. The senate was organized without delay. In the house 
there was a protracted and extraordinary contest in the election of 
a speaker. Ballotings were continued almost daily, without sue- 
cess, until the 2d day of February, 1856, when the plurality rule, by 
a vote of one hundred and thirteen to one hundred and four, was 

On the one hundred and thirty-fourth ballot, after ineffectual at 
tempts to rescind the plurality rule, Nathaniel P. Banks, of Massa 
chusetts, was elected speaker, having received one hundred and three- 
votes to one hundred for William Aiken, of South Carolina. There 
were also eleven scattering votes, nine of which were cast by north 
ern men hitherto counted as opponents of the Nebraska and Kansas 
measures. Nineteen members were absent or did not vote, and 
there was one vacancy. Twelve of the nineteen not voting were 
from northern states. A resolution declaring Mr. Banks duly elected 
was passed by ayes one hundred and fifty-five, nays forty. 

One of the first acts of the house of representatives after its organ 
ization, was to appoint a committee to proceed to Kansas to inquire 
into the validity of the election of the pretended legislature and 


delegate to congress. Their report completely established the fraud 
ulent character of the election and the truth of all the outrages com 
plained of by the free state inhabitants. 

In the senate a debate of considerable interest, on the " Clayton 
and Bulwer treaty," occupied the first weeks of the session. Mr. 
Seward in several able speeches defended the rights and interests of 
his own country and clearly defined the nature and provisions of the 

On the 24th of January, 1856, the president brought the affairs 
of Kansas before congress in a special message which gave rise to a 
protracted discussion in both houses. In the senate the subject was 
debated for nearly six months with little interruption. 

Mr. Seward at the earliest opportunity introduced a bill for the 
immediate admission of Kansas into the Union. " In offering this pro 
position," says Mr. Sumner, in his famous speech of the 20th of May, 
the senator from New York has entitled himself to the gratitude 
of the country. He has, throughout a life of unsurpassed industry 
and of eminent ability, done much for freedom which the world will 
not let die ; but he has done nothing more opportune than this, 
and he has uttered no words more effective than the speech, so 
masterly and ingenious, by which he has vindicated it." 

On the 12th of March, Mr. Douglas, from the committee on terri 
tories, submitted a report extenuating the outrages committed in the 
territory and severely denouncing the action of the New England 
Emigrant Aid Society. 

Mr. Collamer from the minority of the same committee at the 
same time presented an able report, taking entirely different views ; 
views that have since been fully substantiated. On the 7th of April, 
Senator Cass presented the memorial of the Topeka legislature, ask 
ing for the admission of Kansas into the Union. A number of reso 
lutions and bills were introduced at different times, by senators of 
both parties, providing for a settlement of the serious difficulties ex 
isting in the territory. On the 3d of July a bill passed the house for 
the admission of Kansas into the Union under the Topeka constitu 
tion by a vote of ninety -nine to ninety-seven. It was sent to the 
senate on the following Monday and referred to the committee on 
territories. On the 8th of July Mr. Douglas, chairman of the com 
mittee, reported a substitute for the bill, authorizing the people of 
Kansas, under certain restrictions, to form a state constitution. 


The substitute passed the senate on the same day, ayes thirty, 
nays thirteen. The house refused to recede from its previous 
action. The senate declined to pass Mr. Seward s bill or the one 
which came from the house, substantially similar, and in this man 
ner all relief to Kansas was denied. Mr. Seward s speeches at 
various stages of the extended debate are given in full in this vol 
ume. His eloquent and masterly statements of the subject will be 
read with equal pleasure and instruction, as t& best history of the 
great transaction. 

On the 22d day of May, 1856, a violent assault was committed in 
the senate chamber, immediately after the adjournment, upon Charles 
Simmer, by Preston S. Brooks, a representative from South Carolina. 
The blows were inflicted with a heavy cane while Mr. Suinner was 
sitting at his desk in the act of writing. A number of Mr. Brooks 
friends were present, including Mr. Douglas, witnesses of the attack, 
none of whom attempted to prevent or arrest it. On the next 
morning Senator Wilson (Mr. Sumner s colleague), briefly stated the 
facts to the senate. Without making any motion, he said, "I leave 
it to older senators whose character, whose position in this body and 
before the country eminently fit them for the task of devising 
means to redress the wrongs of a member of this body and to vindi 
cate the honor and dignity of the senate." Mr. Seward waited a 
reasonable time for some senator in the majority to offer a resolution 
on the subject. He then moved that a committee of five be appointed 
by the president of the senate to inquire into the circumstances of 
the case and to report thereon to the senate. Under parliamentary 
usage Mr. Seward would have been placed on this committee as its 
chairman. To avoid doing this, the senate changed their custom and 
elected the committee by ballot. Neither Mr. Seward nor any per 
sonal or political friend of Mr. Sumner s was chosen a member of 
the committee. The committee reported that the senate had no 
jurisdiction in the case, 1 and their report was adopted. 

Mr. Seward, as the intimate associate and cherished friend of Mr. 
Sumner, was deeply moved by the whole transaction. He, never 
theless, so *HsQiplined his feelings that his speeches on the subject, 
although full of eloquent denunciation of the outrage, were charac 
terized by his usual dignity of tone and moderation of language. 

1 The house voted to expel Mr. Brooks, one hundred and twenty-one to ninety-five. The mo- 
January X 27 e i^7 VOte tw - third8 Mr " Brook8 resigned, and was re-elected. He died suddenly 


The state of Massachusetts having sent to the senate a series of reso 
lutions relating to this serious attack upon one of her senators, Mr. 
Seward, in a very appropriate and feeling speech, reviewed the 
whole affair, and vindicated the legislature of that state in the course 
it had adopted. 

" Every one knew," said Mr. Seward, " that the sufferer in that scene was my 
cherished personal friend and political associate. Every one knew that he had 
fallen senseless and, for all that was at first known, lifeless, on the floor of the 
senate of the United States, for utterances which, whether discreet or indiscreet, 
were utterances made in the cause of truth, humanity, and justice a cause in 
which he was a distinguished fellow-laborer with myself." 

Besides the speeches made by Mr. Seward on " Kansas affairs," 
the " Clayton and Bulwer treaty," and the " Sumner assault," he also 
spoke at considerable length on the naval retiring board ; the origi 
nation of appropriation bills ; Senator Trumbull s seat ; the Danish 
Sound dues ; Nicaragua ; the compensation bill ; military and civic 
officers; and mail steamers. He also delivered a brief eulogium on 
the Hon. T. H. Bayley, late a representative from Virginia and for 
merly governor of that state. 

Congress adjourned on the 18th of August, 1856. But it having 
failed to grant the required supplies for carrying on the Indian wars, 
the president convened an extra session, which met on the 23d of 
the same month. Mr. Seward s speeches at this session, on the army 
bill and its relation to the affairs of Kansas, throw new light on the 
subject. The extra session terminated on the 30th of August. 

On the 22d day of February, 1856, a convention, representing the 
people of various sections of the country, opposed to the recent 
repeal of the Missouri compromise, the invasion of Kansas, and the 
aggressions of slavery, assembled at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 

At this meeting the initiative steps were taken for the national 
organization of the republican party. Delegates from every free 
state, and from Kentucky, Maryland, and Virginia, were present. 
The venerable Francis P. Blair, of Maryland, presided; and among 
the members present were some of the most distinguished leaders of 
the whig and democratic parties. 

The convention issued an eloquent and stirring address 1 to the peo 
ple, and called a national convention to meet in Philadelphia, on the 

i This address was written by Hon. H. J. Raymond, editor of the New York Times and lieu 
tenant-governor of New York. 

VOL. IV. 6 


17th of June ensuing, to nominate candidates for the offices of presi 
dent and vice-president of the United States. State conventions of a 
similar kind had been held in most of the free states. One, at Saratoga 
Springs, in the state of New York, in August, 1854, was remarka 
ble alike for its great numbers and respectable character. 1 

On the 17th of June, 1856, in pursuance of the call adopted at 
Pittsburgh, a convention of the opponents of the recent aggressions 
of the slave power, and friends of the admission of Kansas as a free 
state and the restoration of the action of the federal government to 
the principles of Washington and Jefferson, assembled in Philadel 
phia to nominate candidates for the offices of president and vice- 
president of the United States. 

A democratic convention, held at Cincinnati on the 2d day of the 
same month, nominated James Buchanan for the presidency ; and the 
Americans had nominated Mr. Fillmore as early as February pre 

The Philadelphia convention presented the names of John C. Fre 
mont, of California, and William L. Dayton, of New Jersey, as their 
candidates, 2 and adopted a resolution in its platform inviteg: the 
affiliation and cooperation of all freemen supporting its principles, 
however differing in other respects. The supporters of this ticket 
became known throughout the Union as the " Republican Party," and 
entered upon the contest with a zeal inspired by their devotion to the 
cause of human nature. The following extracts from the platform 
adopted by this convention contain the essential principles of the new 
party : 

"Resolved, That, with our republican fathers, we hold it to be a 
self-evident truth, that all men are endowed with the inalienable 
rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and that the 
primary object and ulterior designs of our federal government were, 
to secure these rights to all persons within its exclusive jurisdiction; 
that, as our republican fathers, when they had abolished slavery in 
all our national territory, ordained that no person should be deprived 
of life, liberty or property without due process of law, it becomes 

i Among the distinguished men of all parties who participated in its proceedings were Preston 
King, John A. King, William T. MoConn, Robert Emmett, John Jay. Horace Greeley, and Henry 
J. Raymond. 

- On the first ballot. Colonel Fremont had three hundred and fifty-eight votes and Judge McLean 
one hundred and ninety-nine. On the second, the vote stood five hundred and thirty-four to thirtv- 
eeven tor the same candidates. The names of Messrs. Seward. Chase and others were withdrawn 
Wfore any ballot was taken. For vice-president, on an informal ballot. Mr. Dayton received two 
hundred and fifty-nine, Abraham Lincoln one hundred and ten, David Wilmot forty-three, Charles 
Bumner thirty-six. 


our duty to maintain this provision of the constitution against all 
attempts to violate it for the purpose of establishing slavery in any 
territory of the United States, by positive legislation, prohibiting 
its existence or extension therein. That we deny the authority 
of congress, of a territorial legislature, of any individual or asso 
ciation of individuals, to give legal existence to slavery in any 
territory of the United States, while the present constitution shall 
be maintained." 

11 Resolved, That the constitution confers upon congress sovereign 
power over the territories of the United States for their govern 
ment, and that, in the exercise of this power, it is both the right 
and the duty of congress to prohibit in the territories those twin 
relics of barbarism polygamy and slavery." 

Mr. Seward engaged in the presidential canvass with his accus 
tomed zeal and ability. His speeches at Auburn, Detroit, and Os- 
wego are consummate statements of the questions at issue, and mas 
terly expositions of the republican creed. Like nearly all his 
speeches, they possess an interest and value beyond the occasion that 
produced them. 

The election resulted in the choice of Mr. Buchanan, and in the 
success of the democratic party in the nation. In thirteen of the 
sixteen free states, however, the republicans elected their state tickets 
and gave Colonel Fremont a majority, in those states, of more than 
two hundred thousand votes over Mr. Buchanan. In New York, 
the republicans elected twenty-five members of Congress and the 
entire state administration. Colonel Fremont s plurality in the 
state over Mr. Buchanan was eighty thousand over Mr. Fill- 
more one hundred and fifty-two thousand. Only two free states 
(Pennsylvania and Indiana) cast a majority of their popular votes 
for Mr. Buchanan. 

In the slaveholding states, the republicans were not allowed to 
maintain an organization. Individuals expressing sentiments in favor 
of the republican party were driven from their homes, and became 
exiles in the free north. A few republican votes, less than twelve 
hundred in all, were given in the more favored portions of Maryland, 
Delaware, Kentucky, and Virginia. 

Although failing of complete success, the "friends of human lib 
erty " had now organized a party of more than thirteen hundred 


thousand intelligent freemen, never to be disbanded until a triumph 
over slavery has been achieved. 

Such a party had long existed in the prophetic vision of Mr. 
Seward. He had himself planted the acorn from which this vigorous 
tree had sprung, nearly twenty years ago, when he was governor of 
his native state; and his life may be said to have been spent in 
watching and cultivating its growth. In 1845, in a private letter 
to a friend, Mr. Seward, in full view of the then recent triumph 
of the slave power in the annexation of Texas and the election of 
President Polk, thus clearly indicated the rallying of this new 
party : 

Friends of human liberty," he wrote, " may for ft season be divided, and range 
themselves under different banners, but time will speedily indicate a rallying 
ground, and that ground being once gained, they will be invincible. 

" There is no enchantment against them neither is there any divination against 
their sublime and benevolent mission. 

" Let it be pursued in a spirit of patriotism and Christian charity let our motto 
be uncompromising hostility to human slavery peace and security to the slave 
holder, and perpetual support of the American Union." 

The third session of the thirty-fourth congress assembled on the 
first Monday in December, 1856. 

Among its earliest proceedings was the announcement of the death 
of John M. Clayton. Mr. Seward s eulogium on the character of 
this eminent statesman was an eloquent and feeling tribute to an old 
political associate and personal friend. 

The claims of the officers of the revolutionary army were ably advo 
cated by Mr. Seward in a speech of great research and power. He 
showed by abundant evidence that the bill before the senate rested 
on the policy established by General Washington himself, while at 
the head of the army, and throughout the war ; and that its enact 
ment would be the fulfillment of his promises and more acceptable 
to his serene and awful shade than all the tributes which have been 
paid, and all that are yet to be paid, by a redeemed nation and grate 
ful world. 

Among the new republican senators who appeared in the senate at 
the present session was James Harlan, of Iowa. His right to his 
seat, however, was disputed by the majority and was arbitrarily 
denied to him, by a vote of twenty-eight to eighteen. Mr. Seward, 
in a lucid argument, conclusively established the validity of Mr 


Harlan s election, and the legislature of Iowa confirmed it at their 
next session by a decisive majority. On the 23d of December, 
1856, Mr. Seward submitted a resolution to the senate, which was- 
unanimously adopted, requesting the president to communicate to 
the senate such information as he might have, concerning the 
present condition and prospects of a proposed plan for connect 
ing, by submarine wires, the magnetic telegraph lines on this con 
tinent and Europe. On the 7th of January the president replied, 
transmitting a report from the secretary of state. Mr. Seward, 
on the 9th of the same month, introduced a bill to expedite tel 
egraph communication for the use of the government in foreign 
intercourse. The senate proceeded to the consideration of the bill 
after it had been reported upon, favorably, by a committee, without 
amendment, and after an interesting debate passed it by a vote of 
twenty-nine to eighteen. Mr. Seward s remarks on the subject, dur 
ing its discussion, were eloquent and timely. 

After the wires had been laid between the coast of Ireland and 
Newfoundland, there was a spontaneous gathering of people in Au 
burn, as in many other places, to rejoice over the happy event. Mr. 
Seward, and Governor King, who was then on a visit to Auburn, 
delivered enthusiastic and eloquent speeches. In the course of his 
remarks, Mr. Seward related the following incidents in the passage 
of the telegraph bill through congress : 

" Cyrus W. Field, by assiduity and patience, first secured consent and con 
ditional engagement on the part of Great Britain, and then, less than two years 
ago, repaired to Washington. The president and secretary of state individually 
favored his proposition, but the jealousies of parties and sections in congress 
forbade them to lend it their efficient aid and sanction. He appealed to me. I 
drew the necessary bill. With the generous aid of others, northern representa 
tives, and the indispensable aid of the late Thomas J. Rusk, a senator from Texas, 
that bill, after a severe contest, was carried through the senate of the United 
States by a bare majority. It escaped defeat in the house of representatives with 
equal difficulty. I have said the aid of Mr. Rusk was indispensable. If any one 
has wondered why I, an extreme northern man, loved and lamented Thomas J. 
Rusk, an equally extreme southern man, they have here an explanation. There 
was no good thing which, as it seemed to me, I could not do in congress with 
his aid. When he died, it seemed to me that no good thing could be done by 
any one. 

1 On the death of Senator Rusk, Mr. Seward delivered an eloquent eulogium on his life and 


" But so vehement were the prejudices against Mr. Field for what was then 
regarded as presumption and officiousness on his part, although he is the most 
modest of all men, that the great bill was only saved by his withdrawing at the 
request of Mr. Rusk and myself from the senate chamber, its lobbies and even from 
the capitol grounds, and remaining unobtrusive and unseen in his own lodgings. 
But Cyrus W. Field, at last, fortified with capital derived from New York and 
London, and with the navies of Great Britain and the United States at his com 
mand, has after trials that would have discouraged any other than a true discoverer, 
brought the great work to a felicitous consummation." 

General rejoicing spread over the country upon the announce 
ment that the cable was laid and that messages between the two 
worlds had actually been transmitted. Mr. Seward s services, in 
securing the aid of the government to the project, were everywhere 
remembered, and will be still more cordially acknowledged when the 
communication shall be again established. 

Mr. Seward supported with equal zeal, in the senate, the project 
of a line of telegraphs to the Pacific ocean, connecting California 
and Oregon with the Atlantic seaboard. 1 

Near the close of the session, amendments were proposed to the 
existing tariff laws. Mr. Seward opposed them as still further em 
barrassing the interests of the iron manufacturers and the wool 
growers of this country. The amendments proposed in the senate 
by Mr. Hunter were adopted, ayes thirty-three, nays twelve, viz., 
Messrs. Bell, Bigler, Brodhead, Collamer, Dnrkee, Foot, Greyer, 
Nourse, Seward, Thompson, Trumbull and Wade. The senate and 
house disagreeing, a committee of conference, of which Mr. Seward 
was one, reported a series of amendments, which were less detrimen 
tal to American interests. Their report was concurred in by both 
houses ; in the senate by thirty -three to eight ; in the house by one 
hundred and twenty-three to seventy-two. 

A bill which proposed to restore peace in Kansas by annulling 
all laws of disputed validity and enabling the people of the terri- 

1 The following correspondence is copied from the St. Paul Times of August 30th, 1860: 
" The despatches below are the first ever sent over the wire in due form, and it is eminently 
proper that this inaugural dispatch should have been transmitted to and by Wm. II. Seward." 

To Gov. Seward, Auburn. N. Y. 

ST. PAUL, Au. 29, 1:45 p. M. Through the courtesy of Mr. Winslow, proprietor, we are ena 
bled to send this the first dispatch ever transmitted by lightning from St. Paul to the east, as 
complimentary to you. (Signed) M. S. WILKINSON, 

Senator SewarcTs Reply. 

AUBURN, Aug. 29, 8:30, p. M. To M. S. Wilkinson and A. Goodrich : You have grappled New 
York, now lay hold on San Francisco. (Signed) WILLIAM II. SEWARD. 


tory to establish a government for themselves, passed the house 
on the 17th of Februar}^ by a vote of ninety-eight to seventy-nine. 
In the senate it was laid on the table, ayes thirty, nays twenty ; 
Messrs. Bell, Brodhead, Houston, James, Pugh and Stuart voting ia. 
the negative with the republicans. 

Mr. Seward s speeches, during the session, on the admission of 
Minnesota, the Indiana senators, post office appropriations, and other 
measures were practical and effective. 

On the 4th of March, 1857, Mr. Buchanan became president of 
the United States. His inaugural address abounded with plausible 
professions of devotion to the public welfare. He especially depre 
cated the further agitation of the slavery question, although a large 
portion of his remarks were upon that subject. He expressed him 
self in favor of the admission of Kansas into the Union with a 
constitution approved by a majority of the voters in the territory. 
He alluded also to a decision of the supreme court, soon to be made, 
counseling acquiesence in it, whatever might be its character and 

A special session of the senate was called to consider the nomina 
tions of the new president. Several subjects of interest were con 
sidered in open session. The committees were reorganized after 
some opposition from several senators in the minority, who deemed 
the composition of the committees unequal and unfair. Mr. Seward 
remarked that he had been in the senate when no place was allowed 
to him or his political associates on any committee. He did not 
then complain. He thought he best served the country by foregoing 
all personal considerations on such questions. He preferred to leave 
it to the people to substitute for this majority a better majority. 1 

Scarcely had the echo of the president s inaugural speech died 
away when 2 the supreme court rendered its decision in the "Dred 
Scott case." Its announcement produced a profound sensation 
throughout the country, and awakened a feeling of indignation that 
has not yet subsided. This was the decision to which the president 
had referred, in his inaugural address, and to which the people were 
expected to submit. The case is briefly as follows : an action was 
commenced in the circuit court of the United States, for the district 

1 Mr. Seward was placed on the committee of foreign relations ; Mr. King on pensions : Messrs. 
Snmner and Wade on territories, and two republicans on most of the other committees. 

2 March 6th, 1857. 


of Missouri, in 1854, by Dred Scott, to establish his freedom, and 
that of his wife and their two daughters, who were claimed and held 
as slaves by one Sanford, the defendant. Sanford placed his 
defense on two grounds : First, that Dred Scott was not a citizen of 
Missouri because he was a negro of African descent ; and, second, 
that Dred and his family were the defendant s slaves. Scott relied 
on facts mutually admitted that he was formerly a slave in Mis 
souri ; was taken in 1884, by his then master, to Illinois, and held 
there in servitude two years, and was thence taken to the territory 
west of the Mississippi, and north of the Missouri compromise line r 
where he was also held in servitude until the year 1838, when he 
was brought back to the state of Missouri and sold as a slave to 
the defendant before this suit was commenced. 

The circuit court decided in Scott s favor as to the jurisdiction of 
the court, but against him on the question of his freedom. He then 
appealed to the supreme court. His case was twice elaborately 
argued before that tribunal. The court decided substantially that r 
Dred Scott was not a citizen, and for that reason the courts of the 
United States had no jurisdiction in the case; and expressed the 
opinion that free colored persons whose ancestors were imported into 
this country and sold as slaves, " had no rights which the white man 
was bound to respect," and were not citizens of the United States ; that 
there is no difference between property in a slave and other property ; 
that congress has no power to prohibit slavery in the territories ; that 
the Missouri compromise act was unconstitutional and void ; and 
that the taking of a slave, by his master, into a free state or a ter 
ritory does not entitle the slave to his freedom. 1 Two judges, Messrs. 
McLean and Curtis, dissented from the majority of the court in their 
decision and opinions. 

The people of the free states, greatly shocked by the action of the 
supreme court, gave expression to their feelings in various ways. 
The legislature of the state of New York passed resolutions declar 
ing that the supreme court of the United States, by its action in this 
matter, " has impaired the confidence and respect of the people of 
this state" ; and that " this state will not allow slavery within her 
borders, in any form, or under any pretence, or for any time." 

Vr f **!? deci " " ?n eminent advocate of New York, Wm. M. Evarts, Esq., remarked in a 
public address, that if it had been rendered before the presidential election of 1856, no democrat 
would have Htimuided; and that if Mr. Buchanan had not been chosen the opinions never would 


Mr. Seward took occasion, in the senate, in his speech 1 on the 
admission of Kansas, to review the decision, and the connection of 
the president with its announcement. His dramatic description, in 
this speech, of the inauguration ceremonies ; his vivid exhibition of 
the insincerity of the president s professions ; and his clear exposi 
tion of the fatal connection of the decision with the tyrannies and 
outrages in Kansas, arrested the attention of the senate and the 

At a subsequent date he proposed a reconstruction of the supreme 
court and the courts of the United States, "so that the states shall 
be represented by judges in said courts more nearly on the basis of 
their federal population, while the administration of justice shall be 
made more speedy and efficient." These amendments he proposed 
to make in accordance with the letter and spirit of the constitution, 
without injustice to any interest or section of the Union. 

The thirty-fifth congress, elected mainly at the same time with Mr. 
Buchanan, commenced its first session on the 7th of December, 1857. 
The administration, like that which preceded it, claimed a decisive 
majority in both houses. In the senate there were thirty-seven 
democrats, twenty republicans, and five whigs or Americans. The 
house stood democrats one hundred and twenty-eight, republicans 
ninety-two, Americans fourteen. Mr. Seward s speeches at this ses 
sion were numerous, and on a great variety of subjects. 2 

Early in the autumn of 1857, signs of a severe and general revulsion 
in the trade and industry of the country began to appear. During the 
month of October all the banks suspended specie payments, and a 
most alarming prostration of business ensued. More than five thou 
sand failures occurred, involving liabilities to the amount of three 
hundred millions of dollars. The winter opened with a universal 
complaint of distress, especially among the working classes in the 
cities and large towns. Probably no interest was more seriously 
impaired than railroad stocks. In the short space of thirty days, 
shares in many of the leading corporations depreciated more than 
fifty per cent, becoming, in some instances, valueless. The treasury 

1 March 3, 1858. See present volume. 

2 The following are the titles, as given in the Congressional Globe: The President s Message; 
Eulogy on James Bell ; Treasury Notes ; William Walker : Paying for Slaves out of the Trea 
sury ; Eulogy on Thomas J. Rusk ; Increase of the Army ; Admission of Minnesota ; Kansas and 
Lecompton; Slavery in New York; Pacific Railroad; Admission of Oregon; The Fisheries; 
British Aggressions ; Rivers and Harbor* ; Coast Survey ; Eulogy on the late Senator Hender 
son ; MaifSteamers ; and Washington City Schools. 


50 M E M O I B . 

of the United States, which, a short time ago, was overflowing, was 
now suffering from depletion, and immediate legislation was required 
to meet the wants of the government. 

Among the first acts of the president, after the assembling of 
congress, was to call for an issue of treasury notes. Mr. Seward, 
while admitting the necessity of such means of relief, proposed to 
limit the issue, in amount, rate of interest, and length of time. 

In a speech, already noticed, made by Mr. Seward, in February, 
1853, on removing the duties from railroad iron, 1 a prophetic warn 
ing of the present embarrassments may be found. His statesman 
like counsels had been unheeded, and seven years had been sufficient 
to consummate his predictions. 

The people of Kansas saw no improvement in their affairs under 
the administration of Mr. Buchanan. President Pierce had removed 
from office, two governors of Kansas, Keeder and Shannon, because 
they had manifested an unwillingness to submit wholly and unre 
servedly to the pro-slavery party in the territory. John W. Geary 
succeeded Governor Shannon, and was soon compelled, by persecu 
tion in Kansas and neglect at Washington, to resign. President 
Buchanan then appointed Kobert J. Walker, of Mississippi, to suc 
ceed Mr. Geary. Mr. Walker also resigned, after striving for a few 
months, without success, to administer the government of the terri 
tory with some degree of justice to the people, without, at the same 
time, offending the administration at Washington. F. P. Stan- 
ton, the secretary of the territory, who acted as governor during 
the absence of Walker, encountered the displeasure of the pro- 
slavery party, and was removed from office by the president. 
Governor Walker and Mr. Stanton, like their predecessors, failed to 
secure either order or fairness in the elections or government of Kan 
sas ; and the people were forced to submit to the usurpations of their 
oppressors. A legislature, composed of pro-slavery members, assem 
bled at Lecompton, in January, 1857, and ordered a convention to 
be called to frame a state constitution. The legislature and the 
convention were thus both placed in the hands of the enemies 
of Kansas, having been chosen almost entirely by fraudulent 

i See p. 623, vol. in. 


By the act calling this convention, a census of voters was to be 
taken, on the basis of which, previous to the choice of delegates, an 
apportionment was to be made. This census, falling into the hands 
of the pro-slavery sheriffs, was grossly unjust, most of the free state 
voters being unenumerated, and some counties entirely omitted. 
The apportionment and all the arrangments for the election of dele 
gates were made, so as to perfectly ensure the return of a pro-slavery 
majority in the convention. Under these circumstances the free 
state men again refused to vote and the whole number of votes cast 
was only about two thousand. 

The election took place on the 15th of June, and the delegates 
thus chosen met in convention at Lecompton on the 4th of Septem 
ber, 1857. 1 After organizing they adjourned until October. In the 
meantime an election for members to the territorial legislature was 
held, in which the free state men participated, some show of fairness 
having been secured. The result of this election, notwithstanding 
many gross attempts at fraud, secured a legislature of thirty-six free 
state members to sixteen pro-slavery. The free state delegate to 
congress was chosen at the same time by seven thousand six hun 
dred votes, against three thousand seven hundred for the pro-slavery 
candidate, showing the free state settlers to be in a large majority in 
the territory. 

i Since the above was written, Governor Walker, himself, has testified to the following facts : 
44 Shortly after I arrived at Lecompton," says Mr. Walker, " the county of Douglas, of which 
Lecompton is the capital, held a democratic meeting, and nominated eight gentlemen, I think, as 
delegates to the Lecompton convention, of which John Calhoun, then the surveyor-general of 
the territory, was at the head. The resolutions of the meeting required them to sustain the 
submission of the constitution to the vote of the people. They published a written pledge to 
that effect. Rumors were circulated by their opponents that they would not submit the whole 
constitution to the people. They published a second circular, a day or two before the election, 
denouncing these rumors as falsehoods, and reaffirming their determination, if elected, to sub 
mit the constitution to the people. But for these assurances it is universally conceded they had 
no chance whatever of being elected not the slightest. 

I still continued to entertain not the shadow of a doubt that the constitution would be sub 
mitted to a vote of the people by the convention, nor do I believe the slightest doubt existed in 
the territory. I deem it due to frankness to say, that from my long residence in the south, 
and my general views on the subject of slavery, I should have greatly preferred that a majority 
of the people of Kansas would have made it a slave state. I avowed these views very fully in 
my public communications in Kansas. I never disguised my opinions upon this subject. But 
at the same time it was perfectly obvious to myself and to every person that it was possible to 
accomplish that object by no fair means in Kansas. I was determined that, so far as my action 
was concerned, there should be a fair vote of the people, and that I would countenance no frauds, 
or forgeries, or villainy of any kind, in connection with a question so solemn as that. This at 
tempt to make Kansas a slave state developed itself in the fall of 1857. It first was fully de 
veloped by the terrible forgeries in the pretended returns. They were not legal returns that 
were sent to me as governor of the territory, and which I rejected, although that rejection gave 
a majority of the territorial legislature to my political opponents, the republicans. The first 
forgery presented to me was the case at Oxford, which was a forgery upon its face, and that it 
\vas so has since been acknowledged by one of the judges whose names were signed to it. In a 
public document he declares that he never did affix his signature to it. In Oxford, some six 
teen hundred votes were attempted to be given in a village of six houses, where there were not 
fifty voters, and it is now ascertained that not thirty votes were really given. The rest were all 

" The next return presented was from McGee county, where there certainly were not twenty 
voters, but which was returned as over twelve hundred voters, given at three different precincts, 
and where it is now ascertained that there was no election holden at all not a vote given." 


The convention reassembled at Lecompton, and framed a constitu 
tion recognizing slavery and declaring the right of property in slaves 
to be higher than any law or constitution. Notwithstanding the- 
members had pledged themselves to submit the constitution they 
were to frame, to the suffrages of the people, no such provision was 
adopted by the convention. Only the section relating to slavery 
was to be so submitted, and it was by an artful precaution made 
impossible to vote for or against that section without, at the same 
time, voting for the whole constitution. The free state settlers 
refusing to vote, the slavery permission was adopted by a vote of 
six thousand one hundred forty-three to five hundred and sixty-nine. 
Three-fourths of the affirmative votes were proved to be fraudulent. 

Early in February, 1858, the president sent to congress a special 
message, with the constitution thus formed at Lecompton, recom 
mending the admission of Kansas into the Union under that con 
stitution. In the house the subject was referred to a select commit 
tee, on motion of Mr. Harris, of Illinois, by a vote of one hun 
dred and fourteen to one hundred and eleven. The speaker, con 
trary to usage, appointed a committee opposed to the object of the 

In the senate, after a debate of several weeks duration, a bill was 
passed to admit Kansas under the Lecompton constitution ; ayes 
thirty-three, nays twenty-five. Bell, Broderick, Crittenden, Douglas, 
Pugh and Stuart voted nay with the republicans. Previous to the 
final passage of the bill Mr. Crittenden moved a substitute pro 
viding that the Lecompton constitution should be submitted to the 
people of Kansas ; if approved, the president should by procla 
mation admit Kansas into the Union; if rejected by the people, 
a new convention might be called to frame another constitution. 
Mr. Crittenden s substitute was rejected in the senate by a vote of 
twenty-four to thirty-two Bell, Broderick, Douglas and Stuart 
voting aye with the republicans. 

The bill as it passed the senate was taken up in the house on 
the first day of April. A motion to reject it was lost ayes ninety- 
five, nays one hundred and thirty-seven. Besides the republicans 
voting to reject the bill were Harris, of Illinois, and Hickman, of 
Pennsylvania. Mr. Montgomery, of Pennsylvania, immediately 
moved to substitute Mr. Crittenden s amendment for the senate bill. 
His motion was carried, and the house, by a vote of one hundred 


and twenty to one hundred and twelve, adopted, substantially, the 
bill offered as a substitute in the senate by Mr. Crittenden. 1 

The bill, thus amended, was returned to the senate, where it was 
rejected by thirty -four to twenty -two. The house for several days 
maintained its position arid refused to recede. The senate, equally 
obstinate, at length proposed a conference. The house, after one 
day s deliberation, by the close vote of one hundred and nine to 
one hundred and eight, accepted the proposition, and a conference 
committee was appointed Green, Hunter and Seward, of the 
senate, with English, Stephens and Howard, of the house. Mr. 
English, who had voted in the house for the substitute, was the 
chairman. On the 23d of April, he reported to the house a com 
promise, Seward and Howard dissenting. This compromising bill 
of which Mr. English was the reputed author, was prevarica 
ting and double dealing in its terms, and a virtual surrender of the 
principle contained in Mr. Critten den s substitute, which the house 
had just adopted by eight majority. While professing to submit 
the constitution to the people of Kansas, the bill provided that in 
ease of an adverse vote, the territory should not be admitted until 
it contained ninety-three thousand three hundred and forty inhab 
itants, and also that it should thereby forfeit its right to large allot 
ments of the public lands heretofore set apart for internal improve 
ment and education in the territory. It nevertheless passed the 
house by one hundred and twelve to one hundred and three, 2 and 
the senate by thirty to twenty-two, Broderick, Crittenden, Douglas 
and Stuart persisting in their opposition. It was promptly signed 
by the president, and under its provisions the constitution was sub 
mitted to the people of Kansas. They rejected it by a large majority, 
only one thousand seven hundred and eighty-eight voting in its 
favor and eleven thousand three hundred against it. Mr. Seward s 
speeches during this contest in the senate, are remarkable for their 
ability and comprehensive views. They trace with historical accu 
racy and striking effect the various acts of the pro-slavery party, 

1 The democrats who voted for the " Crittenden amendment," as it was called, were Messrs. 
McKibbin of California ; Morris, Harris, Shaw, Smith and Marshall, of Illinois; English. Foley 
and Davis, of Indiana ; Adrian, of New Jersey ; Haskin and Clark, of New York ; Pendleton. 
Groesbeck, Cockerill, Hall, Lawrence and Cox , of Ohio ; Jones, Hickman, Montgomery and 
Chapman, of Pennsylvania. Messrs. Underwood, Marshall, Davis, Ricaud, Harris and Gilmer, 
representatives of slaveholdine states, also voted with the republicans. 

2 Among those who receded irom their former positions were Messrs. English, Foley, Gilmer- 
Cockerill, Cox, Groesbeck, Hall, Lawrence, Pendleton and Jones. 


in congress and in Kansas, in its persevering efforts to establish sla 
very in that territory. 

During the session, Mr. Seward advocated and voted for the ad 
mission of Oregon and Minnesota into the Union. He, at the same 
time, opposed the prescriptive features contained in the constitution 
of Oregon, and protested against any indorsement of the prejudice 
on which the proscriptions rested. Minnesota was admitted, but 
the bill for the admission of Oregon, after passing the senate, failed 
in the house of representatives. 

One of the most remarkable pages in the history of Mr. Buchan 
an s administration will be that which relates to his management of 
affairs in the territory of Utah. Having formally removed Brigham 
Young from the office of governor and appointed Alfred Gumming 
as his successor, the president determined to send a body of troops 
to Utah with the new governor, to act as his posse comitatus. This 
little army, only three hundred strong, with a train of wagons six 
miles in length, started on its long and dangerous march in the 
autumn of 1857. During its tedious journey the train was attacked 
by the Indians on the route, robbed of its cattle, overtaken by Si 
berian snows and despoiled of a large portion of its supplies. Five 
hundred of its animals died in one night of cold and hunger, and 
fifty wagons were captured and burned by emissaries of Brigham 
Young. After repeated hardships, and losses amounting to millions 
of dollars, the train reduced to a fragment of its original proportions, 
arrived within one hundred miles of Salt Lake city and there went 
into winter quarters. A serious abridgment of rations was necessary 
to save the army from starvation. Brigham Young resolutely for 
bade the entrance of Governor Gumming and his forces into the 
city, and it was only by a mortifying submission that they were 
allowed to remain in their encampment without destruction. Thus,. 
for several months, the rebellious people of Utah were suffered to 
harass and destroy the army of the United States and put its au 
thority at defiance. Fortunately for humanity, an actual conflict was 
avoided by the interposition of a private gentleman of influence and 
practical benevolence. 1 The dishonor of the administration s con 
duct, however, remains. A bill, introduced in the senate, increasing 

1 Thomas L. Kane, of Pennsylvania. 


the army of the United States in view of the then threatened rebel 
lion in Utah, was debated at much length and with great vigor. 

Mr. Seward, with that patriotic regard for the honor of his country 
which characterizes all his acts and speeches, supported the bill and 
advocated the most efficient measures for suppressing the rebellion 
and restoring the supremacy of law and order. His speeches on the 
subject in the senate created not a little excitement in that body and 
among the people. In this instance as in others he did not hesitate, 
in view of all the circumstances, to separate himself, for the time, 
from some of his political friends. He believed it to be his duty to 
sustain the honor and dignity of the government even if he thereby 
gave aid and comfort to Mr. Buchanan s administration. And already 
it is generally conceded that Mr. Seward, in merging the partizan in 
the patriot, has strengthened his position before the country as a 

An adventurer, named William Walker, during President Pierce s 
administration, made several expeditions, in violation of our neutra 
lity laws, to the Central American States on the isthmus, with the 
evident design of revolutionizing their governments and preparing 
the way for their becoming slaveholding states. President Bucha 
nan, like his predecessor, made a show of preventing these maraud 
ing expeditions, and Walker was repeatedly arrested ; but his schemes 
seemed never to be thwarted. 

On the 24th of November, 1857, he landed, with four hundred 
men, on the shores of Nicaragua, at Greytown, in full view of an 
armed vessel sent there by our government to watch and intercept 
him. Commodore Paulding, who was in the vicinity, knowing the 
unlawful nature of Walker s enterprises, soon arrested him and sent 
him back to the United States, a prisoner. Walker was subsequently 
indicted and tried at New Orleans, but the jury failed to agree, and 
the prosecution was abandoned. Commodore Paulding, on the other 
hand, was treated with marked coldness by the administration, and 
resolutions were introduced in the senate and in the house, by the 
president s friends, condemning his course. Mr. Seward defended 
the arrest, and supported a resolution to present Commodore Pauld 
ing with a gold medal. 

The first session of the thirty-fifth congress was brought to a close 
on the 16th of June, 1858. 

66 MEM OIK. 

After the adjournment, Mr. Seward was engaged for several weeks 
in the circuit court of the United States at New York. His argu 
ment before that court, in favor of a bridge over the Hudson river 
at Albany, is remarkable for its originality and for its extensive 
knowledge of the subject of navigation. 

The elections in the autumn of 1858 resulted in a decided rebuke 
of the president and his Kansas-Lecompton policy. In the state of 
New York, only four members of congress favoring that policy were 
elected; and the republican candidate for governor (Hon. E. D. 
Morgan) was chosen by nearly twenty thousand majority. The 
struggle in the state was nevertheless severe, and the result seemed 
to many to be doubtful. In this emergency, Mr. Seward appeared 
before the people, and by his speeches at Rochester, Rome, and Au 
burn, rallied the strength of the republicans, and at the same time 
destroyed the hopes of the opposition. His speech at Rochester, 
especially, gave a new aspect to the contest, and turned the tide in 
favor of the republican party. The following passage has acquired 
an enduring fame : 

" Hitherto, the two systems (slave and free labor) have existed in different 
states, but side by side, within the American Union. This has happened because 
the Union is a confederation of states. But, in another aspect, the United States 
constitute only one nation. Increase of population, which is filling the states out 
to their very borders, together with a new and extended net-work of railroads 
and other avenues, and an internal commerce which daily becomes more intimate, 
are rapidly bringing the states into a higher and more perfect social unity or con 
solidation. Thus these antagonistic systems are continually coming into closer 
contact, and collision results. 

" Shall I tell you what this collision means ? They who think that it is acci 
dental, unnecessary, the work of interested or fanatical agitators, and therefore 
ephemeral, mistake the case altogether. It is an irrepressible conflict between 
opposing and enduring forces, and it means that the United States must and will, 
sooner or later, become either entirely a slaveholding nation, or entirely a free- 
labor nation. Either the cotton and rice fields of South Carolina and the sugar 
plantation s of Louisiana will ultimately be tilled by free labor, and Charleston and 
New Orleans become marts for legitimate merchandise alone, or else the rye fields 
and wheat fields of Massachusetts and New York must again be surrendered by 
their farmers to slave culture and to the production of slaves, and Boston and New 
York become once more markets for trade in the bodies and souls of men. It is 
the failure to apprehend this great truth that induces so many unsuccessful attempts 
at final compromise between the slave and free states, and it is the existence of 
thiis great fact that renders all such pretended compromises, when made, vain and 
ephemeral. Startling as this saying may appear to you, fellow citizens, it is by no 


Cleans an original or even a modern one. Our forefathers knew it to be true, and 
unanimously acted upon it when they framed the constitution of the United States. 
They regarded the existence of the servile system in so many of the states with 
sorrow and shame, which they openly confessed, and they looked "upon the colli 
sion between them, which was then just revealing itself, and which we are now 
accustomed to deplore, with favor and hope. They knew that either the one or 
the other system must exclusively prevail. 

" It remains to say on this point only one word, to guard against misapprehen 
sion. If these states are to again become universally slaveholding, I do not pre 
tend to say with what violations of the constitution that end shall be accom 
plished. On the other hand, while I do confidently believe and hope that my 
country will yet become a land of universal freedom, I do not expect that it 
will be made so otherwise than through the action of the several states co-operat 
ing with the federal government, and all acting in strict conformity with their 
respective constitutions. 

" The strife and contentions concerning slavery, which gently-disposed persons 
8O habitually deprecate, are nothing more than the ripening of the conflict which 
the fathers themselves not only thus regarded with favor, but which they may be 
said to have instituted." 

Congress again assembled on the first Monday in December, 1858. 
On the first day of the session, Mr. Mason, of Virginia, in the senate, 
called up the bill to indemnify the owners of the Spanish schooner 
Amistead for the loss of its cargo of slaves. Mr. Seward remarked 
that he did not consider it a meritorious bill, and moved a postpone 
ment of its consideration. The subject was suffered to rest during 
the remainder of the thirty-fifth congress 

Mr. Seward s speeches during the session were upon the Pacific 
railroad bill ; the expenses and revenues of government ; the bill to 
facilitate the acquisition of Cuba; the Indiana senatorial question ; 
the consular and diplomatic appropriations ; the homestead bill ; the 
protection of American citizens abroad ; and the post office, civil and 
naval appropriations. In the discussion of one of the latter bills, 
the affairs of Kansas were briefly alluded to by Mr. Seward. He 
expressed his satisfaction with the prospect that Kansas was soon to 
be admitted into the Union as a free state ; and hailed the approach 
of the time when no successful attempt would be made in congress 
to bind down any future territory to come into the Union as a slave- 
holding state. 

In the debate on the Pacific railroad bill, Mr. Seward advocated 
an amendment providing that preference should be given, in the 



construction of the road, to iron of American manufacture. He gave 
his assent to the route proposed by the committee, although he pre* 
ferred one less southern. He discarded the policy of giving the 
public lands to a company to build the road, preferring that the land 
in its vicinity should be surrendered to actual settlers, so as to secure 
the speediest possible production of revenue from it. He would 
directly employ the capital and credit of the United States, increas 
ing the tariff on foreign importations for the purpose of defraying 
the cost and providing a sinking fund for the extinguishment of the 
debt created in the construction of the road. These view&are very 
ably set forth in his speeches, with many practical suggestions, most 
of which were incorporated into the bill prepared by the committee. 

Mr. Seward, in discussing the act making appropriations for the 
civil and diplomatic service of the United States, urged several 
important reforms in both departments. He believed that greater 
economy might be secured in their administration, without impairing 
their efficiency. He named a number of foreign missions that might 
be combined, and several that might be safely abolished. 

Probably no more important subject occupied the attention of con 
gress than that of the disposition of the public lands. " A bill to 
secure homesteads to actual settlers on the public domain" passed the 
house, one hundred and twenty to seventy-six. The republicans 
voted for the measure. Six northern democrats voted against, and 
only three southern members for it. Of the democratic votes in the 
house, a large majority were cast against the bill. It having thus- 
passed the house, early in February, 1859, Mr. "Wade, in the senate, on 
the 17th of that month, moved to take it up. His motion prevailed. 1 

All that was now desired by the friends of the bill was a vote upon 
its final passage, which its opponents were determined to prevent. 
Mr. Seward, in brief but energetic terms, urged its friends to stand 
firm and insist upon its consideration. But after a desultory debate, 
which Senator Mason threatened should be " extended," a motion to 
lay aside the bill was carried by the casting vote of the vice-presi 
dent. During the contest, Mr. Gwin left the friends of the bill and 
roted with its enemies. As in the house, a large majority of the 

^ The vote stood as follows (republicans in italics) : Yeas Messrs. Bright, Broderick, Chan 
dler Lollamer, JHron, Doolitfle, Fessenden, Foot, Foster, Gwin, Hale, Hamlin, Ifarlan, Johnson 
of li nnessee <Az/w, Puch, Rice, Seward, Shields, Simmon*, Smith, Stuart, Trumbull, Wade, 
WUKtnr- X Arty* Messrs. Allen, Bayard, Benjamin, Biglcr, Brown, Chesnut, f lay. Clin*- 
rnan, Davis. Pitch lit/patrick, Green, Hammond, Hunter, Iverson, Lane, Mallorv, Mason, 
Pearce, Reid, blulell, Toombs, and Ward 23 


democrats voted against the bill, while every republican sustained it, 
"at every stage. Two days afterwards, Mr. Wade again called up 
the bill ; but a motion to take up the Cuba bill, instead, prevailed. 1 
This was again repeated on the 25th of February. After a debate 
on the Cuba project, protracted late into the night, another effort 
was made to consider the homestead bill. Mr. Seward remarked : 

"After nine hours yielding to the discussion of the Cuba question, it is time to> 
come back to the great question of the day and the age. The senate may as well 
meet, face to face, the issue which is before them. It is an issue presented by the 
competition between these two questions. One, the homestead bill, is a question 
of homes, of lands for the landless freemen of the United States. The Cuba bill 
is the question of slaves for the slaveholders of the United States." 

All efforts, however, to lay aside the Cuba bill were ineffectual, 
and no other opportunity occurred before the adjournment of Con 
gress to get a vote on the final passage of one of the most beneficent 
measures ever presented to any legislative body. In the senate and 
in the house of representatives the republicans voted steadily on the 
side of the measure, while the democrats, with a few exceptions, 
were as uniformly against it. Mr. Seward s speech in favor of a 
homestead law, delivered in the senate as early as 1851, is an elabo 
rate defense of the measure, and may be referred to as the best expo 
sition of the subject ever made in the senate. 2 

The legislature of Indiana, in 1857, attempted to elect two United 
States senators. The two branches were of opposite politics. The 
senate consisted of twenty-three democrats and twenty-seven opposi 
tion, while the house numbered sixty-three democrats to thirty-seven 
opposition. No law existing in that state prescribing the manner of 
electing a senator, the constitution of the United States was the only 
guide in the matter. That instrument declares, that senators shall 
be elected by the " legislature." The laws of Indiana define the 
legislature to be "the senate and house." The senate consists of 
fifty members; the house of one hundred. Two-thirds, in each, is- 
required to make a quorum. 

1 The following is the vote to give the Cuba bill priority of consideration : Yeas Messrs. 
Allen, Bayard, Bell, Benjamin, Bigler, Brown, Chesnut, Clay, Clingman, Davis, Fitch, Fitzpa- 
trick, Green, Gwin, Hammond, Houston, Hunter, Iverson, Jones, Lane Mallory, Mason, Polk, 
Pugh, .Reid, Eice, Sebastian, Shields, Slidell, Smith, Stuart, Toombs, Ward, Wright, and Yulee 
35. Nays Messrs. Broderick, Cameron, Chandler, Clark, Collamer, Dixon. Doolittle, Douglas,. 
Durkee, Fessenden, Foot, Foster. Hale, Hamlin, Harlan, Johnson of Tennessee, Kennedy, King, 
Pearce, Seward, Simmons, TrtnnbiiU, Wade, and Wilson 24. 

2 See vol. I, p. 156. 


The bouse, with twenty-three senators, on the 4th of February, 
in a pretended joint convention, elected Messrs. Bright and Fitch 
senators of the United States ; the latter to fill the vacancy then 
existing, and the former for the full term, commencing the ensuing 
4th of March. This election was deemed invalid for the following 
reasons the senate had never voted for this joint convention, but 
on the other hand had adopted a protest, twenty-seven to twenty, 
against any such meeting, a few days before it was held. Less 
than a quorum of the house were present, and there were several 
other gross informalities attending the pretended election, sufficient 
to render it palpably illegal and void. Twenty-seven senators and 
thirty-six representatives sent a protest to the United States senate, 
declaring that a quorum of neither house had participated in the 
election ; that the alleged joint convention was unauthorized by any 
law of the state, by any resolution of the legislature, or by any pro 
vision of the constitution of Indiana, or of the United States ; and 
that to affirm its action would destroy the existence of the senate of 
Indiana as a branch of the legislature. 1 Bat a majority of the senate 
of the United States allowed Messrs. Bright and Fitch to take their 
seats and act as members of the senate. 

In 1859 the legislature of Indiana, in a legal and formal manner, 
chose Messrs. Henry S. Lane and William Monroe McCarty, as 
senators, to take the places illegally held by Messrs. Bright and 
Fitch. One argument at the previous session of congress had been 
that no contestants appeared for the seats claimed by the latter gen 
tlemen. Messrs. Lane and McCarty accordingly presented their 
credentials to the senate by the hands of the vice-president, with a 
memorial from the legislature of Indiana reciting the facts in the case. 

Mr. Seward moved that the recently elected senators be allowed 
the privileges of the senate until their claims were considered and 
decided. His speech in vindication of their rights, and in condem 
nation of the usurpations and action of the legislature of Indiana in 
1857, is a well reasoned and cogent argument of the whole question. 

The senate, however, refused to adopt Mr. Seward s motion allow 
ing Messrs. McCarty and Lane the privileges of the floor ; and also 

1 Certain state officers are also, by the constitution and laws of Indiana, required to be elected 
Dy a joint convention. But, although several vacancies had existed for some time, the members 
composing the convention which elected the two senators, did not dare to assume the duty of 
electing such officers at that or at any convention similarly constituted. 


declined to consider their claims, on the ground that the question 
had been closed by previous action of the senate. 

On the 24th of January, 1857, Mr. Slidell, of Louisiana, from the 
committee on foreign relations, reported to the senate a bill for the 
acquisition of the island of Cuba. The project had been ushered 
into the senate by a special message from the president and was con 
sidered an Executive measure. It provided for the immediate 
appropriation of thirty millions of dollars, to be placed under the 
control of the president, to be used in his discretion for the acquisi 
tion of the island, without requiring the ratification by the senate 
of any treaty he might make. Neither was the president limited in* 
the amount to be paid, ultimately the thirty millions of dollars 
being for the preliminary arrangements to the actual purchase. Mr. 
Se ward s views in regard to the acquisition of Cuba were expressed 
in his speech in the senate on the 26th of January, 1853, as follows: 

" While I do not desire the immediate or early annexation of Cuba, nor see how 
I could vote for it at all until slavery shall have ceased to counteract the workings 
of nature in that beautiful island, nor even then, unless it could come into the Union, 
without injustice to Spain, without aggressive war, and without producing inter 
nal dissensions among ourselves, I nevertheless yield my full acquiescence to the 
views of John Quincy Adams, that this nation can never safely allow that island 
to pass under the dominion of any power that is already, or can become, a for 
midable rival or enemy." 1 

The bill now before the senate met with Mr. Seward s persistent 
opposition. His speeches and remarks during the debate were full 
of warning and denunciation of the dangerous provisions contained 
in the bill. It also encountered the opposition of the other repub 
lican senators, and was finally dropped by its friends, without a vote 
being taken on its passage. A motion to lay the bill on the table 
was made in the senate at midnight on the 25th of February, which 
was lost, eighteen to thirty. This was the last action had upon the 
measure during the session. 

By the 10th section of an act passed March 3d, 1857, congress 
provided for the establishment of an overland mail to San Francisco 
in these words : 

" SEC. 10. And be it further enacted, That the postmaster-general be, and he is 
lereby, authorized to contract for the conveyance of the entire letter mail, from 

1 Sae Vol. Ill, page 605. 


euch point on the Mississippi river as the contractors may select, to San Francisco, 
in the state of California, for six years, at a cost not exceeding three hundred thous 
and dollars per annum for semi-monthly, four hundred and fifty thousand dollars 
for weekly, or six hundred thousand dollars for semi-weekly service ; to be performed 
semi-monthly, weekly or semi-weekly, at the option of the postmaster-general." 

The bids made for tins contract specified the route to be traversed 
as it was contemplated they should, by the act. But none of the 
routes proposed were sufficiently southern to satisfy the president 
and his cabinet. By an extraordinary exercise of power the success 
ful contractors were made to adopt a route agreed upon by the ad 
ministration and its southern advisers, described as follows : 

" From St. Louis, Missouri, and from Memphis, Tennessee, converging at Little 
Rock, Arkansas ; thence, via Preston, Texas, or as nearly so as may be found ad 
visable, to the best point of crossing the Rio Grande, above El Paso, and not far 
from Fort Fillmore ; ftience along the new road, being opened and constructed 
under the direction of the secretary of the interior, to Fort Yumas, California ; 
thence through the best passes and along the best valleys for safe and expeditious 
staging, to San Francisco." 

One of the objects in compelling the contractors to take this ex 
tremely southern and circuitous route seems to have been to favor 
the gulf states and to populate with immigrants the territory of 
Arizona, at the expense of the more central and northern portions 
of the country. An effort was made in congress in February, 1859, 
to change the action of the post office department in regard to this 
matter, and to restore the spirit and letter of the act of March 3d, 
1857. The route forced upon the contractors neither accommodated 
the transmission of letters nor the conveyance of passengers from 
the Mississippi river to San Francisco, while it involved an expense 
of over six hundred thousand dollars. On the 1st of March, 1859, 
an amendment to the post office appropriation bill was lost, as 
follows : 

" And be it further enacted, That the contract with Butterfield & Co., for carry 
ing the mails from the Mississippi river to San Francisco, in California, shall be so 
construed as to allow said contractors to carry the mail by any route they may select." 

YEAS Messrs. Broderick, Cameron, Chandler, Clark, Collamer, Dixon, Doc-little, 
Durkee, Foot, Foster Harlan, King, Polk, Pugh, Seward, Shields, Simmons, Trum- 
bull, Wade and Wilson 20. NAYS Messrs. Allen, Bell, Benjamin, Bigler, 
Brown, Chesnut, Clay, Clingman, Crittenden, Fitch, Fitzpatrick, 6-reen, G-win, 


Hammond, Houston, Hunter, Iverson, Johnson of Arkansas, Johnson of Ten 
nessee. Jones, Lane, Mason, Pearce, Reid, Rice, Slidell, Stuart, Toombs, Ward 
and Yulee 30. 

It will be seen that this vote was almost entirely sectional, Mr. 
Polk of Missouri being the only senator from a slave state in the 

Further efforts were made in the senate and in the house by Mr. 
Seward and others, to give to the north and west a just and equi 
table share in the advantages to be derived from an overland mail 
route to the Pacific. One provision of this character, adopted by con 
gress, was defeated by the president s refusing to sign the bill con 
taining it, and another was lost with the post office appropriation 
bill to which it was attached. 

Mr. Seward advocated the most practicable measures that came 
before the senate for affording mail facilities to the people living be 
tween the Mississippi river and the Pacific ocean. In the same spirit 
he favored the best attainable projects for a railroad; and a line of 
telegraphs, through the same territory. No sectional prejudices mar 
any of his speeches on these great subjects nor appear in any of the 
votes he cast. 

A bill giving to the several states portions of the public lands for 
the support of colleges devoted specially to agricultural and me 
chanical sciences, having passed the house at the previous session, 
came up in the senate and was passed: ayes twenty -five, nays 
twenty- two. It was vetoed by the president. Mr. Seward with 
other republican senators zealously supported this bill while the neg 
ative votes were cast entirely by democrats. 

The efforts of the administration to increase the rates of postage 
on letters were opposed by Mr. Seward, and by the republicans in 
the senate and house of representatives, and were finally defeated. 

On the 3d of March, 1859, the thirty-fifth congress adjourned sine 
die. The president immediately called an extra session of the sen 
ate to meet at noon on the next day. After a week spent chiefly in 
executive sessions the senate again adjourned. 

After the adjournment of the senate (March 10, 1859), Mr. Seward 
determined to gratify his long-cherished desire for an extensive for 
eign tour. He had made a brief and hurried visit to Europe in 1833, 
in company with his father. He designed now to make a more pro 


tracted stay in the countries he then visited, and to examine more 
thoroughly into the condition of their inhabitants and the working 
of their governments ; and also to extend his journey into Asia and 

He accordingly sailed from New York on the 7th of May, in the 
steamship Ariel. His departure was, unexpectedly to Him, made a 
public event. He was waited upon at the Astor House by the two 
republican central committees, and, after a brief interchange of com 
pliments, the committees, with their guest, proceeded in carriages to 
Castle Garden, where they were received by several hundred repub 
licans, and escorted on board the steamer which was waiting to con 
vey the party down the bay. A salute was fired, and the band 
played " Hail to the Chief," while the boat left the wharf, amid hearty 
cheers from men on board and on shore. 

On parting with his company at the Narrows, Mr. Seward ad 
dressed them as follows : 

"GKNTLKMKX: It would of course be impossible for me to persuade you that 
anybody could be insensible to the manifestations of such hospitality as I am 
receiving at your hands. I will, with your leave, however, undertake to interpret 
it, leaving out all its political bearings and relations, and will regard you, not as 
politicians, not as republicans, but as fellow citizens and as friends who, against 
my will, followed me to the house of my friends, where I was entertained, took 
me up at the door of my hotel, unwilling to leave me alone in your city, and who 
will not part from me now until you separate from me at the gates of the ocean. 
Gentlemen, the sky is bright, the sun is auspicious; all the indications promise a 
pleasant and prosperous voyage, and it will depend upon my own temper whether 
out of it I am able or not to make the material for which I go abroad the know 
ledge derived from the sufferings and strivings of humanity in foreign countries 
to teach me how to improve and elevate the condition of my own countrymen. 
I will only say, gentlemen, in expressing my thanks to you, now that we are at 
the point of separation, that I trust it may be my good fortune to return among 
you, and resume the duties now temporarily suspended, in the great cause of 
freedom and humanity. But no one knows the casualties of life; and two voya 
ges separate me from you. What may happen in that space and time, no one but 
a beneficent Providence knows. If it is my lot not to return among you, I trust 
I shall be remembered as one who accomplished in his own life the laudable ends 
of an honorable ambition, and died far away from his native land without an 
enemy to be recalled and without a regretful remembrance, and with a conviction 
that he had tried to deserve the good opinion which his friends entertained of him. 
Fellow citizens, friends, I am entirely taken by surprise by these manifestations 
of your good will and attention. I have not taxed myself to consider whether 
there can be anything in what I have done to deserve it. I had hoped, as I had 


thought, that I could pass out of the country in silence, to seek strength, health, 
vigor and knowledge in foreign lands, unattended, unnoticed, if not unknown. 
I need not say it is a pleasant surprise. But as we near the place where we must 
part, sad thoughts, rather than exciting ones, enter into my mind. You will 
excuse me, therefore, if I turn aside altogether from political questions and con 
siderations, which it is my duty to forego, and follow the scenes which it is my 
object to study and contemplate. I do so the more readily, because I know that 
at last the great questions of justice and humanity before the American people 
are destined to be decided, and that they may be safely left to your hands, even 
if the instructor never returns. If Providence restores me with health and vigor, 
it shall be devoted to the establishment and supremacy of the same principles. 
But we do not know the casualties which await us. We do know only that our 
welfare is the object of the care of a beneficent Providence. And we do know, 
too, that a life which has been devoted to humanity, and has endeavored to avoid 
doing injustice to mankind, is a life which can leave no other than a harmless, if 
not a satisfactory reputation. Such, if I know my own heart, I hope will be the 
reputation which I shall leave And now, kindest of friends, whose liberality, 
courtesy, and attention have attended my passage from my country to the very 
ates of the ocean, farewell. God be with you." 

The closing sentences were uttered with much emotion. 

Mr. Seward remained abroad about eight months. During this 
time he traversed no small portions of Europe, Africa and Asia, 
visiting Egypt and the Holy Land. Probably no other American 
was ever received, wherever he went, so cordially and with such 
distinguished respect. The monarchs and ruling classes of Europe 
spontaneously offered him all the opportunities he could desire for 
improving the great object of his journey, and such as are only 
extended to recognized statesmen of the world. He enjoyed, no 
less, the company and respect of Kossuth, Lamartine, Mrs. Marti- 
neau, Mackay, and other friends of liberty in England and on the 

Mr. Seward s return to his native land, oh the 29th of December, 
1859, was signalized by public demonstrations and rejoicing. At 
New York, the common council tendered him the civilities of the 
city, and made arrangements for his public reception. On his arri 
val in the city, the mayor waited upon him and accompanied him to 
the City Hall, where a dense crowd of people were waiting to receive 
him. In response to Mayor Tiemann s address, Mr. Seward spoke 
as follows : 

not mean to yield to the impulses of feeling on this occasion, although I can 
scarcely conceive what would be more flattering to me than this reception in the 

VOL. IV. 9 


metropolis of my native country, and under the auspices of the municipal authori 
ties of this flourishing city. Nevertheless, I answer that my seeming indifference 
to the cordial welcome would argue me guilty, not merely of caprice in regard to 
my fellow citizens, but of ingratitude to the Divine Being whose goodness has 
permitted me again to enter the circle of true patriots and of endeared and life- 
tried friends. 

" In the eastern regions, from which we have derived the revelations of divine 
truth, a paralysis rests upon society, which leaves little else to be noted than those 
monuments of Christian laith which none can study without grateful emotions. 
I have been able on many occasions to compare the existing condition of society 
in Europe with what existed there twenty-five years ago, when I had the fortune 
to visit the eastern continent. 

" I think that I can safely say that society all the nations on that continent 
are more prosperous now than they have ever been before, and are making deci 
ded progress in all substantial improvements. But it is manifest that the institu 
tions of government existing there are either too ancient, or were founded on 
ancient principles, and are not adapted to the exigencies of the present day. 

" Therefore it is that every country in Europe is balancing between the desire 
for beneficial changes and the fear of innovation. Our own system, constructed 
later and under better and happier auspices, alone seems to afford its citizens free 
dom from such difficulties and such apprehensions. 

" It must always be difficult to determine how far we can lend encouragement 
to those who seek to reform the institutions of their own country, even when 
there is hope of benefit to them as a people. But this we can always do : we can 
conduct our internal affairs and our foreign relations with truth, candor, justice and 
moderation, and thus commend our better system to other nations. This republic 
may prove to them that its system of government is founded upon public virtue, 
that as a people we are at unity among ourselves, and that we are seeking only by 
lawful means to promote the welfare of mankind." 

Addressing the committees and the citizens generally, in reply to 
an address by Judge Peabody on their behalf, he said : 

" My memory gives back the recollections of May last, when you accompanied 
me to the steamer on the occasion of my departure abroad. I know not how 
much I am indebted to that manifestation of cordiality for the friendly reception 
which met me in all the countries which I visited, which was so grateful to my 
feelings. But no day was so pleasant to me as the one which brought me to 
my native country 

"In the Old World I saw much to admire, much to appreciate; but not so 
much as there is to admire in the prosperity of my native land. I had visited 
England a quarter of a century ago. I was asked on this visit whether I had seen 
signs of change and improvement. To this I replied that I had ; and was asked 
whether there had not been changes and improvements in my own country. I 
replied, with pride, Yes. Twenty-six years ago, I left London built of stone, 
and New York was built of brick. Now, London and Paris are indeed both of 
etone New York of marble." 


His route home was a triumphal procession. At every place on. 
the way, from New York to Auburn, bonfires, cannon, and speeches 
Si waited his arrival. His reception in Auburn was such as could 
have been prepared and given only by sincere and devoted friends to 
a loved fellow citizen and cherished benefactor. The railroad depot 
and the streets of the city through which he passed, were thronged 
with people. The military, the city officials, and the children of the 
public schools, bearing banners " Welcome to Senator Seward " 
-accompanied him to his house. 

At the gates of his residence, he met the clergymen of every de 
nomination in the town, waiting to take him by the hand and 
welcome him home. Mr. Seward, it was observed, was more deeply 
affected by this scene than any through which he had passed. He 
was able to return their hearty greeting only in silence, as he passed 
through the line they had formed, into his house. 

His reply to an address made to him by Michael S. Myers, Esq., 
on behalf of the people, at the railroad depot, was a spontaneous 
and familiar talk with his friends. 

"It is true," he said, "as you have reminded me, that I have reached another 
stage in a journey that has occupied eight months of time and covered ten thou 
sand miles of space the last stage a stage beyond which I can go no further. 
Although in this journey I have traversed no small portions of four continents 
Europe, Africa, Asia and America it is not until now, that I have found the 
place which, above all others, I admire the most and love the best. This place, 
this very spot on which you stand, and I stand among you, is indeed the one point 
on the globe, which, wherever else I may be, draws me back by an irresistible 
spell ; the place where, when I rest, I must dwell the only place where I can 
be content to live, and content, when life s fitful fever shall be over, to die. 

" It is the spot cherished in my affections above and beyond all others above 
and beyond the spot where I was born above and beyond the scenes in which I 
was educated adorned and marked as those localities of my early life are, by 
mountain and river, by blue skies and genial climes it is a spot cherished by me 
above and beyond the scenes of any severe labor of any arduous achievement 
and if I may use the expression without offense, of any personal successes. I 
love it more than the capital of my native state, although in that capital I have 
borne the baton of civil authority, confided to me by three millions of a free, brave 
and enlightened people. I love it more than even the senate chamber of the 
great confederate Republic of which we are all citizens although in that senate 
chamber I am authorized with one other representative to pronounce the will of 
the leading member of that confederacy. I should not despair of vindicating this 
preference by comparing the natural advantages, and the social development of 

tf 8 MEMOIR. 

the valley of the Owasco, with those of any other place you or I have ever known. 
Lakes, meadows, waterfalls, fields, forests are here, which are nowhere surpassed ; 
and comfort, ease, intelligence, enterprise and morals, that may justly challenge- 
comparison in any part of the globe. 

" But I will be candid, and confess that my partiality stands upon a simpler and 
more natural logic. I prefer this place because it is my place. You may as well 
be candid, also, and confess that you like it best, because it is your place. It is 
true, my excellent friends, that persons abroad who do not know this attractive 
spot so familiarly as we do, criticise it sometimes with severity. They point to- 
those dark, massive prison walls, which are just before me, and tell us that they 
mar the beauty and detract from the graces of our city. But you and I never see 
those walls, or, if we do, they appear to us only as the boundaries of a field of 
active labor, productive industry, and benevolent instruction. So, sometimes these- 
distant critics are pleased to say that they think that I, who now stand before- 
you, am not an object worthy of any such consideration as you are now bestow 
ing on me, and you, I am sorry to say, do not seem to be much affected by that 

"I prefer this place, because it is the only one where I am left free to act in an 
individual and not in a representative and public character. Whatever I may be 
elsewhere, here I am never either a magistrate or a legislator, but simply a citizen 
a man your equal and your like nothing more, nor less, nor different." 

During Mr. Seward s absence (on the 16th of October, 1859), 
Captain John Brown with twenty-one men, armed with muskets and 
pikes, invaded the state of Virginia and took possession of the town 
of Harper s Ferry. Their avowed object was to liberate the slaves 
of Virginia. After getting control of the railroad passing through 
the town, and of the United States armory established there, Brown 
was compelled to surrender to a detachment of United States marines, 
with a loss of thirteen of his men. He and six others were cap 
tured, severely wounded and forthwith tried and executed foi murder 
and treason. 

This strange event caused a deep excitement throughout the 
country. The enemies of Mr. Seward and of the republican party 
endeavored to make him and the party responsible for the acts of 
Captain Brown. But the attempt most signally failed. 

Immediately, on the assembling of Congress, Mr. Mason, of Vir 
ginia, in the senate, moved for a committee, with almost unlimited 
authority and power, to investigate the whole transaction. After a 
protracted examination of numerous witnesses, the committee, con 
sisting of Senators Mason, Fitch, Jefferson Davis, Doolittle and 
Collamer, made a report absolving all persons, except Brown and 


his men, from any connection with the invasion. The following is 
an extract from the majority report, signed by Messrs. Mason, Fitch 
and Davis: 

l< On the whole testimony, there can be no doubt that Brown s plan was to 
-commence a servile war on the borders of Virginia, which he expected to extend, 
and which he believed his means and resources were sufficient to extend through 
that state and the entire south. It does not seem that he entrusted even his inti 
mate friends with his plans fully, even after they were out for execution." 

The elections in all the free states, except California, in the au 
tumn of 1859, resulted favorably to the republicans, notwithstanding 
the efforts of their opponents to excite odium and prejudice against 
the party by alleging its complicity with the raid of John Brown. 
In New York, the republicans succeeded in electing a legislature 
nearly three to one in their favor, and most of their state ticket by 
flattering majorities. Pennsylvania also chose an opposition legisla 
ture and opposition state officers. Minnesota, for the first time, was 
republican, securing an additional republican senator in the United 
States senate. Ohio also reversed the majority in her legislature, 
which chose Salmon P. Chase, senator, at its ensuing session. In 
Kansas the people, having rejected the Lecompton constitution, de 
cided by a large majority to call a convention to frame a new state 
constitution. This convention met at Wyandotte, in July, and adopted 
a constitution which was submitted to and approved by the people 
of Kansas in October following. At the state election held under 
this constitution, in December, Charles Robinson, the republican 
candidate, was elected governor, with a representative to congress 
and other officers of the same politics. 

The territorial legislature having previously repealed the spurious 
and offensive laws of the territory, passed an amnesty act for politi 
cal offenses, and a bill abolishing slavery in Kansas. The last 
named act was defeated by the failure of Governor Medary to sign 
it. 1 On the night of the adjournment a bonfire was made of all 
the odious laws repealed during the session. 

In the territory of Nebraska, the republicans elected their candi- 
cLate for delegate to congress by a majority of the legal votes. The 
territorial legislature passed an act, in the words of the ordinance of 
1787, prohibiting slavery in the territory, forever. This act was 

lAt the next session, in January, 1860, a similar act was passed over the governor s veto. 

70 ME MO IK. 

vetoed by the federal governor. In Oregon the result was so close 
that the majority was claimed by both parties. 

In California, only, were the friends of the administration suc 
cessful. In that state, the election was contested with unusual bit 
terness. Senator Broderick addressed the people at various times 
during the canvass, severely denouncing the policy and conduct of 
the president and his supporters. Among the latter was Judge 
Terry, who, on the close of the election, challenged Senator Brode 
rick to fight a duel. A hostile meeting took place on the 13th of 
September, and on the first fire Mr. Broderick was fatally wounded. 
His untimely death produced a very deep and wide-spread feeling 
of sorrow and regret. A large portion of the people believed his 
dying declaration : 

" They have killed me because I was opposed to the extension of slavery 
and a corrupt administration" 

No notice of his -death was taken in either house of congress- 
until after Mr. Seward had returned from Europe and resumed his 
seat in the senate. His brief eulogium on Senator Broderick, pro 
nounced in the senate on the 13th of February, 1860, adds another 
to his several eloquent memorials of deceased associates in the senate 
of the United States, that have been previously commented on in 
these volumes. 

The thirty-sixth congress assembled on its usual day in December, 
1859. But an organization was not completed until the first week 
in February, 1860. 

On the first ballot for speaker, it was apparent that neither party 
had then a clear majority of the members. The relative strength r 
as exhibited on several occasions, was nearly as follows : republicans,, 
one hundred and twelve; democrats, ninety -one; all others, thirty. 1 
Soon after the first ballot, Mr. Clark, of Missouri, offered a resolu 
tion declaring, as unfit to be speaker of the house, any member who 
had signed a recommendation of a pamphlet known as " Helpei s 
Compendium of the Impending Crisis." On this a long and excited 
debate ensued, continuing until the election of a speaker, but with 
out coming to a vote upon the resolution. On the 1st day of Feb- 

i On the first ballot, Sherman received sixty-six votes, Grow forty-three, Bocock eighty-six 
and scattering thirty-five. The republicans then united on Mr. Sherman, giving him one hun 
dred and twelve votes. The democrats changed their candidate several times, varying in the 
number of votes they cast from eighty-six to ninety-one. They repeatedly united with the Ame 
ricans, carrying their combined vote on the thirty-ninth ballot up to one hundred and twelve. 


ruary, and on the forty-fourth ballot, ex-governor William Penning- 
ton, of New Jersey, the republican candidate, was chosen speaker, 
receiving one hundred and seventeen votes to one hundred and six 
teen for all others. The republican candidates for clerk, printer, and 
the minor officers were subsequently elected by small majorities. 
The committees also, appointed by the speaker, were republican, or 
opposed to the policy of the administration. 

In the senate, no delay occurred. Immediately after its organiza 
tion, Mr. Mason, as already stated, moved the appointment of a com 
mittee to inquire into the facts connected with the late seizure of the 
United States armory at Harper s Ferry, by John Brown and his 
confederates. Mr. Trumbull moved to include in the investigation 
the seizure of the arsenal at Franklin, Missouri, by the invaders of 
Kansas, in 1855. Mr. Mason s resolution was unanimously adopted, 
after the rejection of Mr. Trumbull s amendment. 

Subsequently, Mr. Douglas, who had been detained from the senate 
by illness for several weeks, offered a resolution in favor of a law to 
protect the slave states against invasions and conspiracies. The 
measure proposed was denounced as a " sedition act," aiming at the 
liberty of the press and at free speech. It gave rise to a heated dis 
cussion, involving the question of slavery in its various relations to 
the government. The president transmitted his message to the senate 
on the 27th of December, before the house had organized. He dis 
cussed at length the Harper s Ferry affair, the slave trade, the acqui 
sition of Cuba, and recommended an appropriation to pay for the 
Amistad negroes. 

Mr. Seward took his seat in the senate on the 9th of January, 
1860. On the 14th of February, the president of the senate pre 
sented the constitution of Kansas, framed at Wyandotte. Mr. 
Seward moved its reference to the committee on territories, and 
that it be printed. On the 29th. he delivered his great speech in 
favor of the immediate admission of Kansas into the Union, and on 
" the state of the country." 

" The audience assembled to hear Governor Seward s speech," says a writer who 
listened to it, " filled every available spot in the senate galleries, and overflowed 
into all the adjacent lobbies and passages, croAvding them with throngs eager to fol 
low the argument of the senator, or even to catch an occasional sentence or word; 
while, throughout its delivery, a constant stream of life flowed up and down the 


gorgeous staircases of the chamber, vainly beating against the compact masses who 
had been so fortunate as. to get early possession of the ground; and, thence re 
coiling and deflecting, the disappointed current would glide into eddies around the 
hall, and linger in groups beyond ear-shot of the speaker, unwilling to abandon 
all hope of ultimately catching a glimpse of the scene transpiring below. 

" It was on the floor itself that the most interesting spectacle was presented. 
every senator seemed to be in his seat. Hunter, Davis, Toombs, Mason, Ham 
mond. Slidell, Clingman, Benjamin and Brown, paid the closest attention to the 
speaker. Crittenden listened to every word. Douglas affected to be self-pos 
sessed ; but his nervousness of mien gave token that the truths now uttered 
awakened unpleasant memories of the Lecompton contest, when he, Seward and 
Crittenden, the famous triumvirate, led the allies in their attacks upon a corrupt and 
despotic administration. 

" The members of the house streamed over to the north wing of the capitol, al 
most in a body, leaving Mr. Reagan of Texas, to discourse to empty benches, 
while Seward held his levee in the senate. 

" Many prominent men, from various parts of the Union, occupied the reserved 
seats in and around the chamber. There was an unusally large attendance of the 
diplomatic corps. This was due in part, doubtless, to the reputation of the orator 
as a statesman and a leader of a great party soon to take the control of the Fed 
eral Government ; but more, perhaps, to the fact that, during his recent foreign 
tour, Governor Seward was received with marked respect, and seemed sometimes 
to be confidently consulted by the most eminent crowned heads and the most dis 
tinguished statesmen of Europe. 

" This attention was due in a large degree to the train of profound reflection, 
the vein of original thought, the graphic historical sketches, the tasteful rhetorical 
ornaments, the occasional apt quotations and allusions, in fine, to the mental mag 
netism which permeated his speech from the beginning to the end. But it was 
owing more, doubtless, to the intrinsic character of the subject and the man, than 
to any mere display of the arts of the logician or the rhetorician. It was upon 
the theme of American politics; upon the problem awaiting solution by the whole 
body of our people. It was the utterance of a man whose sharply-defined opin 
ions upon that theme, pronounced twenty years ago, then found feeble echoes, but 
which have been reiterated until they have become the creed and rallying cry of 
a party on the eve of assuming the jontrol of the National Government. 

" His exposition of the relation of the constitution to slavery contained, in a 
few lucid sentences, all that is valuable upon that subject in Marshall, Story and 
Kent, The historic sketch of parties and policies, and the influence of slavery 
upon both, from the rise of the Missouri compromise onward to its fall, exhibited 
all of Hallam s fidelity to fact, lighted up with the warm coloring of Bancroft. 
The episodical outline of the Kansas controversy, and of the doctrinal heresy and 
dangerous tendency of the Dred Scott pronunciamento, have never been com 
pressed into words so few and weighty. Nothing could be more triumphant than 
his vindication of the republican party from the charge of sectionalism; nothing 
more felicitous than his invitation to the south to come to New York and pro 
claim its doctrines from lake Erie to Sag Harbor, assuring its champions of safe 
conduct in their raid upon his constituents ; while the suggestion, that if the south 


would allow republicans the like access to its people, the party would soon cast as 
many votes below the Potomac as it now does north of that river, was one of 
those happy retorts, whose visible effect upon senators from the slave states must 
have been seen to be appreciated and enjoyed. His implied rebuke of the tirade 
against Helper s book, by quoting Jefferson s commendatory letter to Price, the 
Helper of his day, and his comparison of the attempt to implicate, by inuendoes, 
others than Brown and his companions, in their attack upon Harper s Ferry, wilh 
like attempts to implicate innocent persons in the Salem witchcraft, the Guy 
Fawkes plot, and the old colonial negro plot, produced a salutary effect upon an 
appreciating auditory, though uttered in the calm and measured language so cha 
racteristic of the senator. And, finally, this masterly and successful speech was 
closed by an elaborate and impressive exposition, alike original, sincere and hearty, 
of the manifold advantages of the Federal Union, the firm hold it has upon the 
affections of the people, the solid basis upon which its pillars rest, and the cer 
tainty that it will survive the rudest shocks of fanaticism and faction." 1 

The spring elections of 1860, throughout the north, were eminently 
favorable to the republican cause. Nearly every northern city elected 
republican officers. The state elections in New Hampshire and Con 
necticut and the city elections in Chicago (the home of Senator 
Douglas) and in Philadelphia were each hotly contested. The ad 
ministration made every exertion that pecuniary aid and class terror 
ism could employ. But the friends of freedom proved true, and 
were everywhere successful. In Rhode Island a division among the 
republicans on local issues resulted in the election of the irregular 
republican ticket, which had been supported by the administration 
forces who made no peculiar nomination. In the state of New York, 
the counties of Cayuga and St. Lawrence, (the homes of Senators 
Seward and Preston King,) elected unanimous republican boards of 
supervisors, and there were large gains in other counties. It was 
estimated that prior to the occurrence of most of these elections one 
million copies of Mr. Seward s last speech had been printed and cir 
culated in the various localities. 

Soon after the rash raid at Harper s Ferry, some public meetings 
had been held in a few cities, under the name of Union meetings, 
composed mainly of citizens who had not as yet been received fully 
into either of the two parties of the country. The speeches and res 
olutions at these meetings denied the necessity of any agitation of 
the slavery question and deprecated what was called the forcing of 
an issue upon the people, which they did not wish to discuss. 

i Correspondence of the New York Tribune. 

VOL. IV. 10 


Although five territories were about to be organized by congressional 
action ; although Kansas was not yet admitted ; and notwithstand 
ing many southern congressmen were daily urging a slave code for the 
territories, or that the slave trade be reopened, a few presses and 
many timid citizens seemed contented to ignore the issues of the day 
and to be satisfied with vague resolutions concerning the integrity 
of the Union. 

The meetings resulted in a gathering of very respectable citizens 
from many states at Baltimore on the 10th day of May, 1860, who 
organizing a convention, resolved, in substance, that the constitution 
of the United States was their only platform of principles ; and pro 
ceeded to nominate for president of the United States John Bell 
of Tennessee, and for Yice-President Edward Everett of Massachu 
setts. The convention assumed the name of the "constitutional 
union party." 

On the 23d uay of May, 1860, the delegates to the national dem 
ocratic convention assembled at Charleston, South Carolina. Caleb 
Gushing of Massachusetts was made permanent chairman, and for 
more than a week the most violent debates and ingenious parliamen 
tary tactics were had over the question of resolutions for a platform. 
The delegates wore seemingly divided into three classes ; one repre 
senting the extreme southern views upon slavery, in regard to slaves 
being property under ttre~~constitution andT protected by its terms 
in territories^ another upholding the ..popular-Sovereignty doctrines 
of Mr. Douglas ; and a third anxious to promote partizan success by 
saying as little as_ possible on the engrossing topic of the day, except 
in the most ambiguous and obscure manner. A combination of the 
two latter classes resulted in adopting a platform which reaffirmed 
that adopted at Cincinnati in 1856, with the addition of a resolution re 
ferring the question of slave property under the constitution to the 
supreme court of the United States ; and two other resolutions con 
cerning the acquisition of Cuba and the rights of citizens in foreign 
countries, which were not remarkable for definite expression. Upon 
the adoption of this platform, the delegates from seven slave states 
seceded and organized a separate convention. 

The first convention, after four days of unsuccessful balloting, ad 
journed in considerable disorder to meet again in Baltimore on the 
18th of June. 


The seceding convention adopted resolutions in its platform affirm 
ing the right of property in slaves in the territories, under the con 
stitution of the United States, and the duty of congress to protect 
such property in the territories and on the high seas. This con 
vention then adjourned to meet in Eichmond on the llth day of 
June one week previous to the meeting of the other convention 
in Baltimore. 

During the recess of the two conventions, the senate of the United 
States adopted a series of resolutions, introduced by Senator Davis, 
of Mississippi, embodying the principles of the seceders platform 
all the democrats voting aye. excepting Mr. Pugh. Mr. Douglas 
was absent, on account of illness. The administration, also, was- 
understood to favor the seceders ; and the conflict which raged at 
Charleston soon spread throughout the democratic party. In the 
meantime, new delegates were chosen to fill the vacancies caused by 
the secession, which served to increase the feud between the con 
tending factions. 

The northern democrats were nearly unanimous in favor of the 
platform adopted by the majority convention, and of Mr. Douglas 
as the candidate for president ; while the party in the south was- 
almost a unit in favor of the seceders platform, but divided as 
to a candidate, although bitterly opposed to Mr. Douglas. In 
striking contrast with this distracted condition of the democratic 
party, the republicans were entirely harmonious in sentiment, 
and with no irreconcilable differences as to their candidate for 

The two factions of the democratic convention assembled again, 
pursuant to adjournment one at Eichmond, on the llth of June, 
and the other, on the 18th, at Baltimore. The former adjourned from 
day to day, without transacting any business. In the latter, the old 
conflict between those who would protect slavery everywhere, and 
those who would not, was renewed. After a stormy debate, inter 
rupted by personal collisions, those who favored slavery protection 
again seceded, and organized a separate convention. They were 
joined by Caleb Gushing, the chairman of the original convention. 
The remaining members, with a new presiding officer, proceeded to 
nominate candidates for president and vice-president of the United 


Stephen A. Douglas was nominated for president on the second bal 
lot, receiving one hundred and eighty-one and a half votes of the one 
hundred and ninety-four and a half cast. Benjamin Fitzpatrick, of 
Alabama, was named for vice-president He, however, declined the 
nomination, after the convention had adjourned, and Herschel V. 
Johnson, of Georgia, was substituted by the national democratic 
committee. The platform, as adopted by this convention at its 
session in Charleston, reflects the sentiments of Senator Douglas 
and that portion of the democratic party in the northern states 
who no longer support all the demands of the slave power. 

The seceders, who held their convention at the same time in another 
part of the city, nominated for president of the United States, John 
C. Breckinridge, of Kentucky, and for vice-president, Joseph Lane, 
of Oregon, 1 and adopted as their platform, substantially, the one 
rejected at Charleston by the original convention. It boldly denies 
the power of any territorial legislature to exclude slavery from its 
domain ; and maintains that it is the duty of congress to protect 
slavery, to the fullest extent, on the high seas, in the territories, and 
wherever its constitutional power extends. 

The second national convention of the republican party, met at 
Chicago on the 16th day of May, 1860 the fifty-ninth birthday of 
Mr. Seward. The convention was called to order at noon by Gov 
ernor Morgan, of New York, the chairman of the national committee. 
David Wilmot, of Pennsylvania, was chosen temporary chairman 
by a unanimous vote. At a subsequent session a permanent or 
ganization was completed by the election of George Ashmun, of 
Massachusetts, as president, with twenty-seven vice-presidents, 
and as many secretaries, representing each state and territory in 
convention. 2 

A platform of principles was adopted by the convention with 
great enthusiasm and unanimity. 3 It recognizes the great doctrine 
of the declaration of independence "that all men are created equal," 

1 Mr. Breckinridge received eighty-one votes, and Daniel S. Dickinson twenty-four. Mr. 
Lane s vote was unanimous, one hundred and five. 

2 The following table show? the number of delegates in attendance, entitled to votes, from 
each state and territory: Maine, 1(>; New Hampshire, 10; Vermont, 10 ; Massachusetts, 9H; 
Rhode Island, 8; Connecticut. 12: New York, 70; New Jersey. 14 ; Pennsylvania 54 Marvland 
11; Delaware, <>: Virginia. 23; Kentucky, 23 ; Ohio, 40; Indiana, 26 ; Missouri, 18; Michigan] 
12; Illinois, 22; Wisconsin. 10: Iowa. 8; California, 8: Minnesota, 8; Oregon. 5: Texas, 6- 
Kansas, (i ; Nebraska, <> : District Columbia, 2. Total. 4(i(5. Pennsylvania, Iowa and New Jersey 
eent a larger number of delegates, but were only entitled to vote as stated above. 

3 See Appendix. 


and declares that the normal condition of all the territories is that 
of freedom ; and denies the authority of congress, of a territorial 
legislature, or of any individuals, to give legal existence to slavery 
in any territory of the United States. 

On the third day of the session the convention proceeded to ballot 
for candidates for president and vice-president of the United States. 
On the first ballot for president, the votes were divided as follows : 

For William H. Seward, of New York, 

" Abraham Lincoln, of Illinois, ................................... 102 

" Edward Bates, of Missouri, .................................... 48 

" Simon Cameron, of Pennsylvania ............................... 50} 

" John McLean, of Ohio, ......................................... 12 

" Salmon P. Chase, of Ohio, ...................................... 49 

" Benjamin F. Wade, of Ohio, . ................ ................... 3 

" William L. Dayton, of New Jersey, .............................. 14 

" John M. Read, of Pennsylvania, ................................. 1 

" Jacob Collamer, of Vermont, .................................... 1Q 

u Charles Sumner, of Massachusetts, ............................... 1 

" John C. Fremont, of California, .................................. 1 

Whole number of votes cast, 465; necessary to a choice, 233. 

The following table exhibits the vote of each state on the first ballot : 
















Maine . 



New Hampshire . ... 









Rhode Island 










New York 


New Jersey, 






- 8 







Ohio . . . . 


























California . 











District Columbia, 


There being no choice a second ballot was taken, Mr. Seward 
receiving one hundred and eighty-four and one- half votes, and Mr. 


Lincoln one hundred and eighty-one; scattering, ninety-nine and 
one-half. A third ballot resulted in the nomination of Mr. Lincoln. 
Mr. Seward received on this ballot one hundred and eighty votes ; 
Mr. Lincoln two hundred and thirty-one and one-half; Mr. Bates 
twenty-two ; Mr. Chase twenty-four and one-half; Mr. McLean five ; 
Mr. Dayton one ; C. M. Clay one. Before the result of the voting 
was announced Mr. Lincoln s vote was increased, by changes, to three 
hundred and sixty four. 

The states which cast a majority of their respective votes for Mr. 
Seward on the last ballot were Maine, Massachusetts, New York, 
Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, California, Texas, Kansas territory 
and the District of Columbia. 

At the close of the third ballot, when the result had been an 
nounced, Mr. Evarts, chairman of the New York delegation, moved 
that the nomination of Abraham Lincoln, of Illinois, as the repub 
lican candidate for president of the United States, be made unani 
mous. His motion was seconded by Mr. John A. Andrew, of 
Massachusetts, Mr. Carl Schurz, of Wisconsin, and Mr. Austin Blair, 
of Michigan, and adopted by the convention. 1 

Hannibal Hamlin, of Maine, was nominated for vice-president. 
On the first ballot he received one hundred and ninety-four votes ; 
Cassius M. Clay, of Kentucky, one hundred and one and one-half; 
John Hickman, of Pennsylvania, fifty-eight ; A. H. Reeder, of Penn 
sylvania, fifty-one; 1ST. P. Banks, of Massachusetts, thirty-eight and 
one-half; H. Winter Davis, of Maryland, eight; Sam Houston, of 
Texas, six ; W. L. Dayton, of New Jersey, three ; John M. Eead, 
of Pennsylvania, on.e. On the second and last ballot, Mr. Hamlin 
received three hundred and sixty -seven votes ; Mr. Clay eighty-six , 
Mr. Hickman thirteen. Mr. Hamlin s nomination was then made 

These nominations, as well as the platform adopted by the conven 
tion, received the cordial approval of Mr. Seward. In private and 
in public he promptly gave them his hearty indorsement. On the 
day on which the nominations were made he wrote for the Auburn 
Daily Advertiser, as follows : 

1 For the eloquent remarks made by these gentlemen, and others, at the time, see Ap- 


" Xo truer exposition of the republican creed could be given, than the platform 
adopted by the convention contains. No truer or firmer defenders of the repub 
lican faith could have been found in the Union, than the distinguished and esteemed 
citizens on whom the honors of the nomination have fallen. Their election, we 
trust, by a decisive majority, will restore the government of the United States to 
its constitutional and ancient course. Let the watchword of the republican party, 
then, be Union and Liberty, and onward to victory." 

Two days afterwards lie addressed the following reply to a letter 
from the central republican committee of the city of New York : 

" AUBURN, May 21, 1860. 

" GENTLEMEN : I will not affect to conceal the sensibility with which I have 
received the letters in which you and so many other respected friends have ten 
dered to me expressions of renewed and enduring confidence. These letters will 
remain witb me as assurances in future years that, although I was not unwilling 
to await, even for another age, the vindication of my political principles, yet that 
they did nevertheless receive the generous support of many good, wise and patri 
otic men of my own time. 

" Such assurances, however made, under the circumstances now existing, derive 
their priceless value largely from the fact that they steal upon me through the 
channels of private correspondence, and altogether unknown to the world. You 
will at once perceive that such expressions would become painful to me, and justly 
offensive to the community, if they should be allowed to take on any public or 
conventional form of manifestation. For this reason, if it were respectful and con 
sistent with your own public purposes, I would have delayed my reply to you 
until I could have had an opportunity of making it verbally next week on my 
way to Washington, after completing the arrangements for the repairs upon my 
dwelling here, rendered necessary by a recent fire. 

The same reason determines me also to decline your kind invitation to attend 
the meeting in which you propose some demonstrations of respect to myself, while 
so justly considering the nominations which have been made by the recent na 
tional convention at Chicago. At the same time, it is your right to have a frank 
and candid exposition of my own opinions and sentiments on that important 

My friends know very well that, while they have always generously made my 
promotion to public trusts their own exclusive care, mine has only been to execute 
them faithfully, so as to be able, at the close of their assigned terms, to resign 
them into the hands of the people without forfeiture of the public confidence. 
The presentation of my name to the Chicago convention was thus their act, 
not mine. The disappointment, therefore, is their disappointment, not mine. It 
may have found them unprepared. On the other hand, I have no sentiment either 
of disappointment or discontent; for who, in any possible case, could, without 
presumption, claim that a great national party ought to choose him for its candi 
date for the first office in the gift of the American people ? I find in the resolu- 

1 See Appendix for the committee s letter. 


tions of the convention a platform as satisfactory to me as if it had been framed 
with my own hands, and in the candidates adopted by it, eminent and able repub 
licans, with whom I have cordially co-operated in maintaining the principles 
embodied in that excellent creed. I cheerfully give them a sincere and earnest 

I trust, moreover, that those with whom I have labored so long that common 
service in a noble cause has created between them and myself relations of per 
sonal friendship unsurpassed in the experience of political men, will indulge me in 
a confident belief that no sense of disappointment will be allowed by them to 
hinder or delay, or in any way embarrass, the progress of that cause to the con 
summation which is demanded by a patriotic regard to the safety and welfare of 
the country and the best interests of mankind. I am, sincerely and respectfully, 
your friend and obedient servant, WILLIAM H. SEWARD. 

Congress adjourned on the 25th June, 1860, refusing to admit Kansas 
into the Union, to enact a proper tariff, or to pass a homestead act. 1 

Mr. Seward labored diligently to secure all these great measures. 
His speech on the admission of Kansas has already been noticed. 
In a brief speech on the tariif, he especially protested against a post 
ponement of the question, remarking that 

" The proposition to postpone involves the question of the true value of our 
present time, and also leads us to consider the prospects of a more favorable sea 
son at the next session of congress. We are here," he said, " in the middle of the 
month of June, which is yet one, or two, or even three months earlier than con 
gress has been accustomed to adjourn. Before the adoption of the present salary 
system, no man would have felt himself bound to put off this question of a tariff, 
at this season of the year, because of a want of time. It is now of no conse 
quence, as a question of economy, to the public at all whether we sit here till 
August or adjourn to-day. If we have not time enough to consider this question, 
somebody is responsible for that lack of time. Who is responsible ? We were at 
liberty to sit here till the month of December next. But ten days ago a majority 
of the senate a majority of whom were understood to be opposed to this princi 
ple of protection fixed an arbitrary period, and shortened up the time of con 
gress until Monday next, with the full knowledge that this question was to be 
acted upon." 

But his counsels, joined with those of Mr. Cameron and other 
republican senators, were unheeded, and the subject was postponed. 

The attention of congress was, several times and in various ways, 
called to the alarming increase of the African slave trade. A pro- 

i A compromise homestead bill passed both houses, but was vetoed by the president. The 
vote in the senate, by which Kansas was kept, out of the Union, stood twenty-seven tc thirty- 
twoMessrs. Bigler and Pujjh voting with the republicans. Messrs. Douglas and Crittendeu 
\vcre absent the former having paired with Mr. Clay, of Alabama. The house voted to admit, 
by ayes one hundred and thirty-four, nays seventy-three. 


position was made in the senate to amend the naval appropriation 
bill so as to provide three steam vessels for its suppression. Mr. 
Seward warmly advocated the motion, but it failed, by yeas eighteen/ 
nays twenty-five. He availed himself of the occasion, however, to 
call the attention of the country to an elaborate bill that he had 
submitted to the senate, at a previous session, for arresting the slave 
trade, which he pledged himself to bring to the consideration of the 
senate at the next meeting of congress. 

Congress also neglected to adopt any decisive measures for con 
structing a railroad to the Pacific ocean, and curtailed the mail facili 
ties already existing between California and the eastern states. A 
large portion of the time of the senate, as well as that of the house, 
was occupied in debates on the subject of slavery. The resolutions 
of Mr. Jefferson Davis, and those of Mr. Douglas, consumed several 
weeks of the session in the senate, while the delay in electing a 
speaker, and the discussion of the resolution offered by Mr. Clark, 
of Missouri, in the house, seemed to leave little opportunity for the 
consideration and disposal of various important practical measures, 
awaiting the action of congress. 

Avoiding the usual summer resorts, Mr. Seward sought recreation 
during the month of July (1860), in brief visits to cherished friends 
in "Vermont, Maine, and Massachusetts. He was unable to escape 
public attentions on the way, but was interrupted at various places 
with popular demonstrations of respect and affection. At Windsor 
and Bellows Falls, in Yermont ; Keene and Dover, in New Hampshire ; 
Bangor and Portland, in Maine, and many lesser places, large crowds 
of people assembled to greet him. The public authorities of the 
states, cities and towns welcomed his appearance among them. Mr. 
Seward spoke briefly in response to the addresses that were made to 
him, eliciting hearty applause. After a brief stay with his friend, 
Israel Washburn, Jr., 1 Mr. Seward proceeded homeward through the 
state of Massachusetts. At Boston he was received with distin 
guished honor. The governor of the state 2 presented him to the 
people, in a complimentary speech, which was received by them with 
repeated expressions of cordial sympathy. Brief addresses were also 
made by Charles Francis Adams and Henry Wilson, who had accom 
panied Mr. Seward from the depot to the Revere House. A band 

i Since elected governor of the state of Maine. 2 Nathaniel P. Banks. See Appendix. 

VOL. IV. 11 


of music played several national airs ; and, although it was nearly 
midnight, the crowd listened to Mr. Seward s speech with singular 
enthusiasm. Mr. Seward spoke as follows : 

" CITIZENS OF BOSTON OF MASSACHUSETTS : I have heard your explanation from 
my excellent arid esteemed friend, the chief magistrate of your state. Something, 
however, seems to me to be due from myself, to you and to the country, for the 
unexpected surprise which has overtaken me. It is so contrary to the habit of 
my whole life to be arrested on a journey which had for its object but the per 
formance of a duty of friendship, and was commenced and prosecuted, and hoped 
to be ended, in a manner entirely private, that I am sure some explanation will 
be expected of me. That explanation is a very simple one. I have made a great 
mistake. I have committed a great blunder. I have been very weak. My first 
mistake was in supposing that it was safe to trust myself on a railroad through 
New England and down east, instead of the telegraph. I found out my mistake 
only when it was too late ; for although I succeeded in finding the wide-awakes 
at Bangor fast asleep in the middle of the day, yet I very quickly discovered that 
they woke up quite too soon for the convenience of a quiet traveler. I certainly 
have not besought, and have not desired, any demonstration of consideration at 
the hands of my fellow citizens. There are many reasons why I prefer to seek the 
satisfaction of the attempt to perform my duty, in my own conscience and not in 
the acclamations of my fellow men ; but it is God s will that we must be over 
ruled and disappointed, and I have submitted with such graciousness as I can. 

" Fellow citizens, I have endeavored, all along the road for this, I think, is the 
seventh or eighth time that I have been called out to meet a kind and cordial 
welcome on this day only I have endeavored to accommodate myself to this 
form of reception by treating it as a light and trivial affair, trusting that those who 
have been so exceedingly kind to me would believe, after all, that there was grati 
tude, unexpressed and strong, concealed under the face of a simple, honest good 
nature. But, fellow citizens, the case is altered when I come upon the soil of 
Massachusetts. I cannot say that I have a veneration, though I have a profound 
affection, for Vermont. Her statesmen are not my teachers her people are but 
my equals. Although I honor them and respect and love them for their fidelity to 
the interests of their country and to the cause of justice and humanity, they are 
still but my fellow laborers in the vineyard. I can say the same of New Hamp 
shire, that I know none of her statesmen or her sons who were earlier in the field 
than the statesmen and sons of New York. I can say the same of the state of 
Maine, which I have visited great and honorable as the works are which have 
been done in those states by the champions of human rights. I am their equal ; 
I have received their cordial welcome as an expression of esteem and kindness. 
But it is altogether different in the state of Massachusetts. Here I can play no 
part ; I can affect no disguise ; because, although not a son of Massachusetts, nor 
even of Mew England born, I feel and know it my duty to confess that if I have 
ever studied the interests of my country, and of humanity, I have studied in the 
sdiool of Massachusetts. If I have ever conceived a resolution to maintain the 
rights and interests of these free states in the union of the confederacy, I learned 
it from Massachusetts. 


( "It was twenty-two years ago, not far from this season, when a distinguished 
and venerable statesman of Massachusetts had retired to his home, a few miles in 
the suburbs of your city, under the censure of his fellow citizens, driven home by 
the peltings of remorseless pro-slavery people, that I, younger then, of course, 
than I am now, made a pilgrimage, which was not molested on my way, to the 
Sage of Quincy, there to learn from him what became a citizen of the United 
States, in view of the deplorable condition of the intelligence and sentiment ot 
the country, demoralized by the power of slavery. Thence I have derived every 
resolution, every sentiment, that has animated and inspired me in the performance 
of my duty as a citizen of the United States, all the intervening time. I know, 
- ndeed, that those sentiments have not always been popular, even in the state of 
Massachusetts. I know that citizens of Massachusetts, as well as citizens of other 
states, have attempted to drive the disciples of that illustrious teacher from their 
policy. But it is to-night that I am free to confess that whenever any man, 
wherever he might be found, whether he was of northern or southern birth, 
whether he was of the solid men of Boston, or of the light men of Mississippi, 
has assailed me for the maintenance of those doctrines, I have sought to com 
mune with his spirit, and to learn from him whether the thing in which I was 
engaged was worthy to be done. What a commentary upon the wisdom of man 
is given in this single fact, that fifteen years only after the death of John Quincy 
Adams the people of the United States, who hurled him from power and from 
place, are calling to the head of the nation, to the very seat from which he was 
-expelled, Abraham Lincoln, whose claim to that seat is that he confesses the obli 
gation of that higher law which the Sage of Quincy proclaimed, and that he avows 
himself, for weal or wo, for life or death, a soldier on the side of freedom in the 
irrepressible conflict between freedom and slavery. , 

" This, gentlemen, is my simple confession. I desire, now, only to say to you, 
that you have arrived at the last stage of this conflict before you reach the tri 
umph which is to inaugurate this great policy into the government of the United 
States. You will bear yourselves manfully. It behooves you, solid men of Bos 
ton, if such are here and if the solid men are not here, then the lighter men of 
Massachusetts to bear onward and forward, first in the ranks, the flag of freedom. 

"But let not your thoughts or expectations be confined to the present hour. 
I tell you, fellow citizens, that with this victory comes the end of the power of 
slavery in the United States. I think I may assume that a democrat is a man 
who maintains the creed of one or the other branch of the democratic party, as 
it is confessed at the present day. Assuming this to be correct, I tell you, in all 
sincerity, that the last democrat in the United States has been already born. 

" Gentlemen, it remains only to thank you for this kind reception, and to express 
my best wishes for your individual health and happiness, and for the prosperity 
and greatness of your noble city and most ancient and honored state." 

Mr. Seward passed a day at Quincy with Charles Francis Adams, 
visiting the old homestead and the tombs of John Quincy Adams and 
John Adams. The remainder of his journey homeward was inter 
rupted only by the hearty greetings of the people. 


As the presidential canvass advanced, a universal apathy seemed 
to prevail, and the democratic party began to be sanguine of success. 
Invitations now pressed upon Mr. Seward, chiefly from his most 
devoted friends, to enter the campaign. Influenced by these appeals, 
he left home on the last day of August. At Lockport, at Niagara 
Falls, and at other places, both in New York and in Canada, on his 
way to Michigan, he met with a variety of public demonstrations, to 
which he responded in brief acknowledgments. At Detroit, where 
he arrived on the evening of the 3d of September, great preparations 
had been made for his reception. He was escorted from the boat to 
his lodgings by a grand torchlight procession. The display was- 
brilliant and imposing, and the entire population of the city seemed 
to be in the streets. On reaching the house of Senator Chandler, 
Mr. Seward was introduced to the people, who had gathered there, 
by his associate, in a few appropriate remarks. After some playful 
talk about the absurdity of his requiring any introduction to the 
citizens of Detroit, Mr. Seward said : 

" It is a surprise, fellow citizens, to be received in this city, which I honor and 
love so much, with demonstrations of kindness I had almost said affection such 
as could not have been surpassed, I think, in the province through which I have 
passed to-day, on the visit of its hereditary prince and governor. If I do not say 
how much I am gratified, how deeply this welcome affects me, please to under 
stand that I can find no words in which to express my acknowledgments ; so take 
what the tongue seems to suppress for what the heart confesses. I have said, in 
my inmost soul, long ago, that the wishes of the republican people of Michigan 
should be with me, in all practical points, equivalent to a command. You have 
called me here, not to speak of yourselves nor of myself, but to discuss the great 
interests of our country involved in the election of Abraham Lincoln to the office 
of President of the United States. I have come, cheerfully, gladly, proudly, in 
obedience to your command. To-morrow I will hear from you what you think 
of that important question, and then I will, to those who may choose to listen to 
me, explain my view of the condition and prospects and hopes of the republican 
party of the country. Until then, fellow citizens, I hope that my respected and 
esteemed brethren of the wide-awake association 1 , who have done me the com 
pliment of electing me a member, will allow me to go to sleep, whatever they 
may do for the rest of the night ; and to-morrow I promise to perform a soldier s 
duty in their association." 

i The " Wide- A wakes," of whom mention is frequently made in these pages, were an associa 
tion peculiar to the campaign of 1860, originating early "in that year in Hartford, Connecticut. 
Composed mostly of young men, they organized with uniforms and military discipline, bearing 
in their evening parades, each man, a torch. Wherever the republican party existed, the wide 
awakes were a certain element. 


On the following day, Mr. Seward delivered an able and elaborate 
speech to one of the largest audiences ever assembled in the United 
States. This speech was published simultaneously the next morning 
in the newspapers of New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Cincinnati, 
Chicago, and Detroit, and afterward copied into all the principal 
republican journals in the Union, and, both in tone and argument, 
gave to the whole canvass its marked characteristics of dignity and 
patriotism, unknown in any previous presidential election. It will 
be found in this volume, under the title of " The National Diverg 
ence and Eeturn." 

In the evening of the same day, Mr. Seward was honored with 
another grand procession of wide-awakes gathered from the inte 
rior of the state and the shores of lake Erie. Halting in front of 
his lodgings, they were addressed by him as follows : 

" FELLOW CITIZENS : If I appear in obedience to your call to-night, I hope it 
will only be a new illustration of an old practice of mine, never to give up an 
honest and virtuous attempt, though I may fail in it the first time. I tried to-day 
and utterly failed to make the republicans of Michigan hear, and now, in obedi 
ence to your call to-night, renew the effort. The end of a great national debate 
:s at hand. It is now upon us, and the simple reason is that the people have 
become at last attentive, willing to be convinced, and satisfied of the soundness 
of the republican faith. It has been a task. We had first to reach the young 
through the prejudices of the old. I have never expected my own age and gene 
ration to relinquish the.prejudices in which they and I were born. I have ex 
pected, as has been the case heretofore in the history of mankind, that the old 
would remain unconverted, and that the great work of reformation and progress 
would rest with the young. That has come at last ; for though the democratic 
party have denied the ascendency and obligations of the higher law, still they 
bear testimony to it in their persons, if not in their conversation. Democrats die 
in obedience to higher law, and republicans are born, and will be born, and none 
but republicans will be born in the United States after the year of 1860. The 
first generation of the young men of the country educated in the republican faith 
has appeared in your presence, by a strong and bold demonstrative representation 
to-night. It is the young men who constitute the wide-awake force. Ten years 
.ago, and twenty years ago, the young men were incapable of being organized. 
Four years ago they were organized for the distraction of the country and the 
republican cause. To-day the young men of the United States are for the first 
time on the side of freedom against slavery. Go on, then, and do your work. 
Put this great cause into the keeping of your great, honest, worthy leader, Abra 
ham Lincoln. Believe me sincere when I say, that if it had devolved upon me 
to select from all men in the United States a man to whom I should confide the 
standard of this cause which is the object for which I have lived and laborc d 
.and for which I would be willing to die that man would have been Abraham 


From Detroit, Mr. Seward went to Lansing, the capital of the 
state. At Fontiac, Owosso, and St. Johns, on the route, the people 
came together in great numbers to greet him. At De Witt he was 
met by a cavalcade of wide-awakes and citizens, who escorted him 
into Lansing. As the procession, with music and banners, entered 
the city, it presented a highly imposing appearance. The citizens 
had assembled in front of the capitol, awaiting the arrival of their 
guest. Mr. Seward was there met by the committee of reception, 
and. welcomed to the city. In reply to an eloquent address 1 from 
J. M. Longyear, the chairman of the committee, Mr. Seward said : 

" That his errand at Lansing was not wholly that of a politician that he had 
come among them well knowing that the access must be through a new country, 
and over rough roads, to enjoy in part the pleasure of looking upon a city, now in 
ks beginning, the capital of a flourishing state, which, within the lives of his chil 
dren, was destined to become a populous and powerful metropolis. He saw around 
him the elements and assurances of its growth and ultimate greatness, and he felt 
that his time had not been wasted, nor his labor lost, in making this visit ; he 
hoped the citizens of Lansing, of all parties, for that day might look upon him 
as a private man, their personal friend, their invited guest to-morrow would be 
soon enough for them to regard him as the politician, or for him to employ his 
time in talking upon political matters. 

In reply to the reminiscence of Mr. Longyear, in reference to G-ov. Seward s 
reception of John Quincy Adams under similar circumstances, Mr. Seward said : 
" I had arisen that morning at five o clock, and I found Mr. Adams already up and 
writing. He asked me who was to address him that day. I answered that that 
duty had been assigned to me. He said that it would be a favor to him if I could 
show him the address I proposed to make. I repaired to my library, and having 
hastily written my speech, I returned and gave the manuscript to him. The old 
man eloquent read it over by himself; then, handing it back to me, he said: 
Ah, Governor Seward, seeing your speech only increases my embarrassment. 
I cannot answer that speech. You will not hesitate to believe me," said Mr. Sew 
ard, "when I confess that now, when you have applied the address to myself, I find 
it, as my own speech, unanswerable, as John Quincy Adams did when it was 
submitted to him." 2 

The next day, the population of that new region gathered to wel 
come him. Mr. Seward addressed them at length, but only a sketch 
of his speech has been preserved. He said : 

" I know errors, but not enemies. I shall, therefore, speak of principles, and 
not of men. While you think 1 have come here to instruct you, I have, in fact, 
come to complete my own education. I wanted to see for myself how an 

i See Appendix. 2 See Vol. III., p. 236. 


American state is planted, organized, perfected a vigorous American state. I 
see it all now, and here, before me. 

/ " The founders of Michigan were not all of one state or country, but of many 
states and countries. They came from Vermont and New York, Virginia and 
South Carolina, and other American states, as well as from England, Ireland, 
Holland, Norway, and other European countries. They were of various religious 
faiths, and of many differing political habits and opinions. The immigrants from 
Europe were voluntary citizens, not native citizens, like those who came from 
American states. They, of course, all were free, for only freemen can emigrate. 
This is just what would have occurred in every state now in this Union, and 
what must be the case in every state hereafter to come in, if the natural course of 
events were not, and should not, be overruled by government. But powers foreign 
from this continent, although ruling in it early, employed themselves in distracting 
and defeating that natural course of things. Spain, Great Britain and France 
extended their sway over different parts of the continent, and established aristo- 
"racies which were only removed by revolutions. When that political phase had 
passed away, it left many of the states slave states. Boston and New York con 
tinued busily plying the African slave trade. African slavery being thus established 
and continually enlarged, voluntary white free emigration practically ceased. The 
states afterwards divided on the two systems of slavery and of freedom. Some 
have preferred to retain the former. Its consequences are seen in exhausted soils, 
sickly states, and fretful and discontented peoples. You have chosen the wiser 
and better system. My policy that policy which I have maintained so strenu 
ously and, strange to say, through so much opposition that policy which I have 
come to commend to your favor ig your own policy of freedom, instead of 
slavery, as the basis of all future states to be formed on the American continent 
and admitted into the Union. It is not only most conducive to the general wel 
fare, but is the most conducive to the public safety and virtue. What does a 
great free state on this continent need a standing army and a navy for ? It has 
no enemies abroad. It can have no enemies within its own borders. Is not our 
present army (excepting its temporary office of holding the predatory Indian 
tribes under constraint) chiefly kept up, with our navy, for the protection of the 
slave states in possible emergencies ? Granting its necessity for that purpose, may 
I not, as a statesman as well as patriot, say I want no increase of army and navy 
rendered necessary by increasing the area of human bondage ? 

" How simple, then, and yet how wise and how felicitous, is the policy of the 
republican party. All it proposes is that all future states shall be just such free, 
enlightened, contented, and prosperous states, as Michigan is ; and. further, that 
they shall be made so exactly as Michigan was made such a state. That process 
is to keep slavery out of the territory while it is a territory, and then it must and 
will be a free state when it comes to be a state. Let everybody go into a new ter 
ritory who will, be he native or foreign born. Let nobody be carried by force 
into a new territory, be he white or black, native or imported from Africa or other 
tropical or oriental climes. If no slaves are ever carried there, no slaves can ever 
be born there. To say nothing of the condition of the slaves, are the white men 
politically equal in a slaveholding state? What is the condition of the non-slave- 
holding white man in a slave state, contrasted with the slaveholder? Let the 
codes and politics of the slave states show. Let the great emigration of the non- 


Blaveholding white men to newer regions, while the slaveholder remains in the 
native state of both, answer. 

"Many of you profess to accept this policy, and yet refuse to join the one 
party that maintains it. The Breckinridge party stand on a platform directly oppo 
site. You will not, of course, support that. But the Douglas party, you think, 
will do, because it offers popular sovereignty in the territories, so that the people 
there are, at least, left free to choose freedom. If, indeed, a fair trial could be 
guaranteed, it might, perhaps, be well enough. But what the prospects of a fair trial 
for freedom under the auspices of a democratic administration are, let the history 
of oppressed, harassed, and still ostracised Kansas, answer. The Douglas popular 
sovereignty creed, moreover, must be taken together with the Dred Scott decree 
of the supreme court, which, if it be allowed to have the virtue of a decree, 
declares that slavery is the constitutional condition of the territories of the United 
States, unchangeable by any popular sovereignty within them, or even by the 
national authority without. The Douglas creed assumes that slavery and freedom 
are equally just and wise, or, at least, that there is no public interest and no moral 
right involved in the contest between them. Slavery will never be shut out of a 
territory by those who are indifferent whether it is voted up or voted down. 
The republican party, on the contrary, entertain a conscientious conviction that 
slavery is wrong, and, acting on that conviction, they, and they alone, will save 
the territories from its blight, and so make sure that they become ultimately free 
states." ; 

The occasion brought out a grand republican display and mass 
meeting. The people from all the surrounding country came, in 
unprecedented numbers. In the immense procession, which formed 
a part of the ceremonies, were the faculty and students of the state 
agricultural college, with appropriate emblems. They presented to 
Mr. Seward the following address, which was said to be the expres 
sion of the public sentiment of Michigan : 

" In common with the young men of Michigan, we take pride in welcoming 
you to our state. We have learned to admire you for your talents, love you for 
your devotion to the cause of truth and humanity, and look to you for instruction 
in the great principles of civil liberty and equal rights. 

" We believe in a higher law ; we believe that slavery and freedom are in 
compatible, and that the conflict must be irrepressible so long as they are ele 
ments of the same government. We believe that right must finally triumph ; that 
oppression must cease, and we look to the success of republican principles to 
restore our government to its original purity and foster the true spirit of national 
prosperity. | 

" We take pleasure in addressing you from the halls of the first State Agricul 
tural College in our land, and as a champion of human progress you cannot fail to 
be an earnest and sincere friend to the cause of education. We should have re 
joiced to labor to secure your election to the chief magistracy of the nation, but 
we honor you none the less as the great expounder of the rights of man, and 


while, in the past, you have presented so clearly before our minds the truths which 
are at the foundation of every just and stable government, may you be spared 
many years to bless our common country with your counsels and efforts for the 
good of the race. Be assured that you live in the hearts of the freedom-loving 
young men of America." 

In the evening, Mr. Seward was serenaded by a German band, 
attended by a brilliant parade of wide-awakes. 

Mr. Seward s next appointment was at Kalamazoo. Proceeding- 
there by private conveyance, he received at Jackson and other places 
on the road the hearty salutations of the people. His stay in Kala 
mazoo was necessarily brief. A meeting had been called, which, 
notwithstanding a heavy rain, was large and full of enthusiasm. He 
spoke substantially as follows : 

" FELLOW CITIZENS : I am here in obedience to the command of the people of 
Michigan, and yet I am inclined to think that your commands and my compliance 
were a great mistake. You summoned me here because you thought that your 
courage or your patience were flagging in the cause of freedom, and yet at every 
step of my progress from the time that I landed at Detroit, I have found nothing 
but enthusiasm unexampled and unanimity unsurpassed. I have not long to speak 
to you, and I will tell you why I want to go to Kansas. I want to go to Kansas 
before I die ; I want to see the Saratoga in the cause of freedom. I am on my 
way there now, and unless I leave at half-past two I shall fail of that purpose. 
Have I your leave to go? [Aye, Aye, go to Kansas.] Thank you friends; I 
know how to win your consent." After paying a handsome compliment to the 
wide-awakes, Mr. S. proceeded : " I have been much affected by the kind and cor 
dial greetings of my old democratic friends and neighbors, emigrants from the 
banks of the Cayuga, the Seneca, and the Genesee. But I am struck with the 
fact, that while they have lost none of their kindness or respect for me, they 
yet seem to persevere in a hopeless, desperate, useless, unworthy cause. 

" There is indeed no end to their kindness to an old friend when he comes among 
them. I thank them with all my heart. Nevertheless, I confess that, it excites 
my sorrow and sympathy to see so many, and such good men, wasting themselves 
in a cause which can neither bring them nor their country safety, honor or renown. 

" I meet them on the by-ways and pathways and in an honest, outspoken, 
hearty manner, they greet me, as they pass, with Hurrah for Douglas! I think 
that nearly every Douglas man in town has come to tender me his hand, and to 
express at the same time his determination to vote for Douglas. 

"Well, now, fellow citizens, it is honorable to Mr. Douglas that he has such 
friends, and honorable to them that they persevere in their fidelity to him. Still, 
it is not wise for mere personal attachments or pride of consistency, to waste our 
votes, because every vote tells, or ought to tell, on the happiness, the honor and 
the prosperity of the country for centuries to come. 

I " Of the four candidates in the field, the only man who, in any possible case, 
and after every combination, cannot be elected president of the United States, is 

VOL. IV. 12 

90 M E M O I K . 

my excellent friend Stephen A. Douglas; because every vote given for him in the 
north is a vote for Breckinridge, and every vote given for him in the south is a 
vote for Lincoln or for Bell, to be counted in the canvass. If you ask your own 
heart, or inquire of your neighbor, you will find the reason why you republicans 
are going to vote for Abraham Lincoln, is simply and exclusively because he is, as 
you understand it, the representative of human liberty. If you go to the south, 
the great question is brought by the irrepressible conflict of debate to the issue 
between freedom and slavery, and every man in the south is going to vote, not for 
Lincoln and liberty, but for the man who can most effectually protect, defend and 
extend human slavery ! On that great issue the republican party occupies the side 
of liberty, while the democratic party no side, or. if any, the side of slavery. 
The democratic party is indeed divided into two, one holding that slavery is right, 
and the other attempting to compromise, and saying that they are indifferent whether 
it is voted up or voted down. Indifference to liberty is toleration of slavery. 
Theie is no neutrality of this kind practicable now. When this election shall have 
closed you will find this out, because you will then find that the only other man 
in the universe who was further from the presidency than Mr. Douglas was the 
man in the moon." * 

On leaving Kalamazoo, Mr. Seward learned that the steamboat 
Lady Elgin, with nearly three hundred passengers on board, had 
been lost the night before, on lake Michigan, on her way from Chi 
cago to Milwaukee. This sad event cast a deep gloom over those 
two cities, whose citizens were engaged in inquiries and searches for 
the dead. Mr. Seward, with his party, passed through Chicago, 
avoiding all observation, and arrived in Milwaukee on the evening 
of the eighth. In consequence of the melancholy disaster, he declined 
to deliver any speech, or to allow any demonstration whatever to be 
made, or even to receive any public visits, during his stay in the 
city. He remained quietly, at a private house, until Tuesday morn 
ing, when he proceeded to Madison, the capital of Wisconsin. 

At Madison, a reception more flattering, if possible, than any he 
had }^et met, awaited him. Without distinction of party the autho 
rities of the state, the authorities of the city, the military, the fire 
department and the civic societies met him and escorted him from the 
cars to his lodgings. Governor Randall, on the part of the state, and 
Chauncey Abbott for the city, in brief but eloquent speeches, 1 welcomed 
his appearance among them. The following remarks by Mr. Seward, 
in response, were uttered with deep feeling. The sentiments he then 
uttered, the essence of his political philosophy, were received with a 

1 See Appendix. 


hearty enthusiasm, not only by those present but by republicans 
everywhere when the speech came to be published, although often 
before expressed. 

AWAKES AND FELLOW CITIZENS i As I ascended this beautiful eminence, winding my 
way up its graceful declivities until I rested under the shadow of the capitol, it seemed 
to me that I had been carried back three hundred years, and that I was moving upon 
the soil and within the city of the ancient Aztecs, surrounded by beautiful lakes, 
and embowered in the richest vegetation. So long as this capital has existed I 
have heard of its beauty, and I am gratified in being able to bear witness that it 
fully equals its world-wide reputation. I think that the sun never looked down 
upon a fairer location for the elegant capital of a free state. 

" You shall not, fellow citizens, tempt me into the indulgence of any such ex 
travagant estimation of myself, of my principles, of what little I have done, as to- 
make me feel or believe for a moment that this kind reception is more than you 
would extend, and might justly extend, to every one of my associates in the pub 
lic councils of the nation who has been true and faithful to the interests of human 
liberty, while he has not been unmindful of the duty of developing the resources 
of the material prosperity of the country. 

"It has been by a simple rule of interpretation that I have studied the constitu 
tion of my country. That rule has been simply this : That by no word, no act, no- 
combination into which I might enter, should any one human being of the gene 
ration to which I belong, much less any class of human beings, of any nation, 
race or kindred, be repressed and kept down in the least degree in their efforts to 
rise to a higher state of liberty and happiness. Amid all the glosses of the times, 
amid all the essays and discussions to which the constitution of the United States 
has been subjected, this has been the simple, plain, broad light in which I have 
read every article and every section of that great instrument. Whenever it re 
quires of me that this hand shall keep down the humblest of the human race, then 
I will lay down power, place, position, fame, everything, rather than adopt such a 
construction or such a rule. If, therefore, in this land there are any that would 
rise, I extend to them, in God s name, a good speed. If there are any in foreign 
lands who would improve their condition by emigration, or if there be any here 
who would go abroad in the search of happiness, in the improvement of their condi 
tion, or in their elevation to a higher state of dignity and happiness, they have 
always had, and always shall have, a cheering word and such efforts as I can con 
sistently make in their behalf. 

Fellow citizens, words would fail me if I should attempt to express the grati 
tude I feel for this agreeable surprise. I am here compulsorily, not seeking honor 
or consideration at your hands. I am here, I regret to confess it, as a partisan. 
But I acknowledge myself here and elsewhere a partisan only, because the habits- 
and customs of a free state allow no man to be a patriot unless in the ranks of some 
party in the land. To the extent that the party of freedom to which I belong 
shall require me to go in its service, never asking me to trample on the rights or 
to withhold the respect and consideration due to the motives of those who differ 


from me, I shall endeavor to-morrow to set forth my views of the national objects 
and end of the great political discussion in which we are engaged. Until then I 
beg your indulgence for rest and repose, so necessary after a long journey, hoping 
that I may greet you with smiling faces and leave you with no less favorable im 
pressions when the time for our separation shall have come." 

The next day (September 12) was set apart for a gathering of the 
people, in Madison, from all the surrounding country. Mr. Seward 
spoke from the steps of the capitol, on " The duty and responsibility 
of the northwest." He began his speech with the following impres 
sive words : 

FELLOW CITIZENS : It is a bright September sun that is shining down upon 
us, such a sun as nature, pleased with the remembrance of her own beneficence, 
eems to delight in sending forth to grace the close of a season which has been 
crowned with abundance and luxuriance, unknown even to her own habitual pro- 
fuseness. It is such a sun as nature, pleased with seeing the growth of a noble 
capital in a great state, may be supposed to send out to illuminate and to make 
more effulgent for a special occasion the magnificent beauties of the place in which 
we are assembled. It is such a September sun as we might almost suppose nature, 
sympathizing with the efforts of good men, lovers of liberty, anxious to secure 
their own freedom, to perpetuate that freedom for the enjoyment of their posterity , 
and to extend its blessings throughout the whole world, and for all generations, 
may have sent forth in token of sympathy with such a noble race. But, fellow 
citizens, bright and cheerful as this hour is, my heart is oppressed, and I am unable 
at once to lift myself above the sadness of recent scenes and ppinful recollections. 
I obeyed the command of the republican people of Wisconsin to appear before 
them, on this the 12th day of September; and as I approached their beautiful sea 
port, if I may so call the city that crowns the shores of lake Michigan, and affords 
-entrance to this magnificent state, I had anticipated, because I had become habi 
tuated to, a welcome that should be distinguished by the light of a thousand 
torches, and by the voices of multitudes, of music and of cannon. But the angel 
of death passed just before me on the way, and instead of the greeting of thou 
sands of my fellow citizens, I found only a thick darkness, increased in effect as 
only nature s blackness can be, by the weeping and wailing of mothers for the loss 
of children, and refusing to be comforted. I have been quite unable to rise from 
that sudden shock; to forget that instead of the voice of a kind and merry and 
genial welcome, I heard only mournings and lamentations in the streets. 

"To you, perhaps, that sad occurrence seems somewhat foreign, because it oc 
curred in your beautiful seaport, but it was not merely a municipal calamity. It 
is a calamity and disaster that befalls the state, and strikes home dismay and hor 
ror into the bosoms of all its people ; for those who perished were citizens of the 
state, and those who survive are the mourners, the desolate widows and orphans 
who are bereaved. Let me, before I proceed, take the liberty to bring this subject 
to the attention of the state authorities of Wisconsin, and to ask and to implore 
that nothing may be left undone, if there is yet anything that can be done, to res- 


cue every sufferer from that dreadful calamity, and to bring to the comforts of 
social life, and of a sound, good, religious, and public education, the orphans who 
are left to wander in want on the lake shore." 

The whole speech was pervaded by a serious and impressive elo 
quence. The fixed attention of the audience was broken only by 
occasional bursts of applause. The day closed with a " wide-awake r 
display, in the evening, of great magnificence. Mr. Seward, after 
visiting some of the excellent farms in the neighborhood of Madi 
son, and admiring its beautiful scenery, left the city the next day for 
the Mississippi river where a steamboat was in waiting to convey him 
to St. Paul in Minnesota. His progress up the river, from Prairie 
du Chien to St. Paul, was frequently delayed by the people of the 
towns and villages, on either shore, who eagerly desired to see and 
hear him. At La Crosse, extensive preparations were made for his 
arrival. A large procession met him early in the morning, as the 
boat approached the landing. He was escorted thence to the gym 
nasium of the turnvereins, in whose ample grounds a great crowd 
of people was gathered. Before leaving the boat an address was 
presented to Mr. Seward to which he replied as follows : 

"FELLOW CITIZENS: It has always been my purpose to anticipate the progress 
of civilization in the west, by visiting the interior portion of the continent before 
the Indian and his canoe have given place to the white man, the steamer, the rail 
road, and the telegraph. With that view, I explored, in 1856, the banks of lake 
Superior, one year only in advance of the establishment of civilization above Sault 
St. Marie. It has been my misfortune that I have not been able to execute my 
purpose to visit the upper Mississippi until I find that I can no longer trace on its- 
shores or bluffs, or among the people who gather around me, a single feature of 
tlu portraits of Catlin, which first made me acquainted with this wonderful and 
romantic region. I must take you as I find you. I have come here at last, 
attended by a few friends from the eastern states from Ohio, from New York,. 
rom Michigan, from Massachusetts 1 with them to see for ourselves the wonders 
of this great civilization which are opening here to herald the establishment of 
political ppwer and empire in the northwest. But our anticipations are surpassed 
by what we see. None of us could have believed that elegant cities would have- 
so rapidly sprung up on these shores ; nor could we have looked for such eviden 
ces of improvement and development as would have required a hundred years to 
execute in the states from which we come. This is gratifying, because it reveals 
to us how rapidly the American people can improve resources, develop wealth, 

i Mr. Seward s party included George W. Patterson, of New York; Charles Francis Adams, of 
Massachusetts ; James W. Nye, of New York; Rufus King, of Wisconsin, and several other dis 
tinguished public men, who were everywhere received with great consideration, and who con 
tributed much to the eflect of the journey by their frequent and eloquent addresses to the 


and establish constitutional powers and guaranties for the protection of freedom. 
If we had found you isolated and separate communities, distinct from ourselves, 
we should still have been obliged to rejoice in such evidences of prosperity and 
growing greatness. How much more gratifying it is for us to find, in everything 
that we see and hear, abundant evidences that we are, after all, riot separate and 
distinct peoples not distinct peoples of Iowa, Wisconsin, New York and Massa 
chusetts, but that we are one people from Plymouth rock at least to the banks 
of the Mississippi and to the foot of the Rocky mountains. It is an assurance 
that enables us to trample under our feet every menace, every threat of disunion, 
every alarm and apprehension of the dismemberment of this great empire ; for we 
find in the sentiments which you have expressed to us to-day precisely the senti 
ments which were kindled two hundred years ago on Plymouth rock, and which 
are spreading wider and wider, taking deeper and deeper roots in the American 
soil. They give us the sure and reliable guaranty that, under every possible 
change of condition and circumstance, the American people will nowhere forget 
the common interests, the common affections, and the common destiny which 
make them all one people." 

His speech at the turnverein grounds was devoted mainly to the 
idea of disunion. 1 Recent events have given additional interest to 
the words he then uttered. At several places, as he proceeded up 
the river, he addressed the people, briefly, from the deck of the 
steamer, in response to their hearty salutations. 

It was Sunday morning when the boat reached St. Paul. The 
committee appointed to receive him had met him some distance down 
the river. With them he proceeded quietly to the hotel, without 
publicity or ceremony. On Monday he visited fort Snelling, the 
falls of Minnehaha, Minneapolis, and St. Anthony. At the two last 
mentioned places, he was received with public demonstrations. To 
the appropriate addresses made to him at Minneapolis and St. An 
thony, he replied in a few brief but happy remarks. 

Returning to St. Paul in the evening, Mr. Seward was serenaded 
by a procession of wide-awakes, who, with thousands of citizens, 
assembled in front of the hotel at which he stopped. A salute by 
a detachment of artillery having been fired, Judge Goodrich ap 
peared on the balcony with Mr. Seward, and introduced him to the 
people in an eloquent speech, 2 which was echoed by the audience in 
enthusiastic cheers. Mr. Seward responded as follows : 

shrub, or tree, whatever its virtue, or its strength, was created not for itself alone ; 
but it exists for the benefit and to increase the happiness of mankind. Every 

i Sec present Volume. 2 See Appendix. 


man lives, not for himself, but for his country ; for the generation to which he 
belongs, and for those which shall come after him. Every age brings with it some 
peculiar duty to be performed. Wo be to him, who fails to see, or to assume that 
duty. His name shall perish. The zeal, the enthusiasm and the energy which 
mark your action, in the present national emergency, prove that you have rightly 
discerned the duty and have resolutely determined to discharge the responsibility 
devolved upon you. 

" This kind and generous welcome is recognized, on my part, as another one of 
so many acts of hospitality, surpassing claim, or expectation, which have attended 
every step of my progress, since I first, far down the river, set my foot upon the 
soil of Minnesota. I cannot undertake to express the sensibility which this kind 
ness has awakened. It is not my habit to attempt to express the gratitude I feel 
on such occasions, at the time and in the place where they occur. Possibly, at 
some future times and in some far distant places, when you are least expecting it, 
some action, or at least some word, that may not then be out of time, or season, 
may show how deeply my memory ever retains the impressions made by the gen 
erosity of the citizens of this now youthful state, soon to become, as I be 
lieve, by reason of its central position and the intelligence and enterprise of its 
people, a dominating power in the American Union. 

" For the present, my duty requires me to rise above all considerations of my 
self and even of yourselves, of this capital and of this state ; and to think and to 
speak only of our country and for mankind. To-morrow, I will try to perform 
that duty. Until then, I pray you to allow me to rest ; bidding you, each and all, 
kindly and respectfully, a cordial good night. May God bless and reward you 
all! " 

The meeting on the next day (the 18th of September) was nu 
merous beyond precedent. It seemed to be a gathering of the people 
of the whole state. John W. North, of St. Paul, in a very appropri 
ate speech, 1 introduced Mr. Seward to the masses before him. Stand 
ing in the portico of the capitol, inspired by the scenes about him, 
Mr. Seward spoke with unusual eloquence and fervor, 2 while the 
men and women who filled the capacious grounds, around, caught 
the spirit of his words and at brief intervals interrupted him with 
shouts of enthusiasm. 

In the evening Mr. Seward was again serenaded, at his lodgings, 
by a splendid torchlight procession, consisting, in part, of four hun 
dred and fifty Germans. Early on the next day he left the city of 
St. Paul, by steamboat, intending to reach Dubuque, in Iowa, in 
time to address a meeting, called on the twentieth, in anticipation of 
his presence. Unavoidable delays, however, prevented his arrival in 
Dubuque until midnight. Nevertheless he was received with a 

1 See Appendix. 2 The speech will be found in succeeding pages of this volume. 


national salute of artillery ; and a procession of wide-awakes escorted 
him to his hotel, where, having been introduced to the people by 
William B. Allison, l he made the following speech : 

" FELLOW CITIZENS : Language would fail me if I should attempt to express the 
acknowledgments that I owe you for this manifestation of your regard and re 
spect. You will excuse me, I know, for passing by what I treasure up in my 
heart of hearts, the kind words that have been spoken in my ears concerning my 
self alone. That is the place where I always store memories of kindness and of 
affection, and there I prefer to let them rest until the season shall come when they 
may fructify into some action on my part that shall manifest the gratitude which I 
seem to suppress. 

" Fellow citizens, passing from what was merely personal, I have to say that we 
are here some half dozen citizens political pilgrims who were accustomed to 
worship at the shrine of freedom in the east, and we have taken our scrip and 
staff and come to the west. We stopped first, as we passed, on the shores of the 
Niagara river ; then on the shore of Detroit river ; then on the coast of lake 
Michigan ; and thence we made our way across to the Mississippi, and ascended 
that magnificent river to the head of navigation, where we rested for a day or 
two, enjoying the hospitalities of the newest admitted state the best and 
worthiest of the three free states admitted into the Union within the last ten years 
as a result of the decisive action of the republican people of the northwest, since 
the compromise of 1850. Thence we set our faces downward and southward, 
hoping to be here in time to have a full and free conference with you, to give you 
the results of our examination, into the condition of our great cause in other parts 
of the Union, and to learn from you what may be anticipated as the action of the 
people of this yet new but grand western state." 

Mr. Seward was persuaded to remain in Dubuque another day. 
The people, disappointed the previous day, again gathered in the 
public square, eager to hear him speak on the great subjects agitat 
ing the country. He spoke for more than an hour of the West, its 
destiny and its duty, and of the one idea on which its institutions- 
are founded. 

Prom Dubuque Mr. Seward was obliged to travel rapidly through 
Illinois and Missouri, in order to meet his appointments in Kansas. 
His journey through these states was marked by public expressions 
no less flattering than those he had received in Iowa, Wisconsin, 
Minnesota and Michigan. Wherever the cars stopped, even for a few 
minutes, spontaneous crowds of people were in waiting to salute him. 

At Qumcy, Illinois, where he crossed the Mississippi river and 
entered the state of Missouri, he met with a hearty reception. At 

1 For Mr. Allison s speech see Appendix. 


Brookfield, in Missouri, a collation was prepared for him. Here lie 
received a telegraphic dispatch from Chillicothe, the next large town 
on the road, requesting him to address the people at that place while 
the cars stopped there. 1 At first, Mr. Seward was disposed to decline 
the invitation, remarking that the people of Missouri could not ex 
pect him to speak to them when their laws prevented him from 
speaking freely what he thought. On his arrival at Chillicothe, 
however, at the urgent solicitation of the committee and a number 
of respectable citizens of the state, he consented to make a brief 
address. The committee frankly stated to him that they, themselves, 
as well as the audience assembled, were pro-slavery in their principles. 

" GENTLEMEN : I have been very kindly invited by some citizens of your place 
to make you a speech. I would be glad to do so, but it is impossible. To make a 
speech, requires a voice ; and I have left mine behind me. But even if my lungs 
had not failed me, it would be impossible for another reason want of time. A 
speech has been well defined to be an extended expression, having a beginning, a 
middle and an end. I might make a beginning ; but before I could get fairly into 
the middle, the train would be off, and you would never hear the end of it. 
Politics seems to be the all-absorbing topic with you. As I am supposed to be 
something of a politician, it is, perhaps, expected that I should allude to that 
subject. Here too is a difficulty which you have not considered. In regard to 
the candidates you support here, I feel very much like a man, who, wishing to get 
married, applied to the father of a number of girls, for one of two young ladies. 
Well, said the parent, which of them do you propose to take? I declare/ 
said the suitor, I have not thought of that, I had as lief have one as the other, 
and on the whole I think a little liever. 1 I feel so in regard to Mr. Bell, Mr. 
Douglas, and Mr. Breckinridge. I have, however, not a word to say against either 
of them. They are good personal friends of mine of whom I always speak 
well ; and I hope they always speak well of me. But I cannot make up my 
choice in favor of either of them. From the variety of banners and mottoes around 
me, I think you yourselves are in the same quandary. What, then* would you say, 
if I should propose to you to agree on my candidate, Abraham Lincoln? But I 
need not ask you ; I know you would not take him. I think too, that I know 
the reason. He is famous for splitting rails. Judging from your wide pastures- 
with osage orange hedges, and the scarceness of timber about me, I think you 
don t use many rails here. So, we may as well eschew politics altogether. I am 
glad to be able to say that you are located in a splendid country. Fifteen years 
ago, I visited St. Louis, and, at that time, observed that Missouri was destined to 
be great and prosperous. I have now come two hundred miles into the interior, 
and can say that my former impression of the state has been confirmed. So far 
as I am able to judge you are in the best part of it. You ought to be gratified 
that such is the fact. I have noticed on my way that you have a custom here 
which does not prevail in the east, shooting for beeves. And it does not surprise 

i The Hannibal and St. Joseph Railroad Company extended, freely, to Mr. Seward the courte- 
eies of their road. 

VOL. IV. 13 


me, for I see that yonr beeves are worth shooting for. You have also fine horses. 
But if you could come to an understanding with me, a black republican, I think 
we could improve them. During my recent visit to Syria, I was presented with 
some tine Arabian horses. They are said to be the finest horses in the world. 
By uniting them with American horses, I think our stock might be greatly im 
proved. [Here the whistle blew, and Governor Seward was obliged to close.] 
God bless you all ! I thank you most kindly for your attention. -Good bye." 

" As the train moved off, cheers were given out of courtesy to the speaker ; and 
were followed by cheers for Douglas, Bell and Breckinridge. The remarks of Mr. 
Seward were made in a familiar, good natured style, and had a very happy effect 
upon the audience." 1 

At St. Joseph, in Missouri, where he arrived late on Saturday 
evening, he was surprised by a most enthusiastic reception. He 
was escorted from the cars to the hotel by a large procession of 
wide-awakes and citizens, who insisted upon his addressing them 
that evening, as it was known that he would leave the city early on 
Monday morning for Kansas. Moved by the cordiality and evident 
sincerity of their greetings, he appeared on the balcony of the hotel, 
and having been introduced by Mr. T. J. Boynton, of St. Joseph, 
spoke as follows : 

time before this, said that the most interesting and agreeable surprise that ever 
human being has had on this earth was that which Columbus felt when after his 
long and tedious voyage in search of a continent, the existence of which was un 
known to himself, as to all mankind, and the evidence of whose existence was 
nothing but a suggestion of his own philosophy, surrounded as he was by a mu 
tinous crew, who were determined on the destruction of his own life if he should 
continue the voyage unsuccessfully another day he went, out at night on the deck 
of his little vessel, and there rose up before him, in the dark, the shadow of an 
island, with habitations lighted by human beings like himself. That was the most 
interesting surprise that ever occurred to any man on earth. And yet I do not 
think that Columbus was much more surprised than I and those who are with me 
have been to-night. 

"We have been traveling in a land of friends and brethren, through many 
states from Maine to Missouri ! along the shores of the ocean, along the shores 
of the great lakes and the banks of great rivers and 1 will not deny that our 
footsteps have been made pleasant by kind and friendly and fraternal greetings. 
We entered the soil of Missouri this morning, at ten o clock, feeling that, although 
we had a right to regard the people of Missouri as our brethren, and although we 
were their brethren and friends, yet we were to be regarded by its citizens as 
strangers, if not aliens and enemies ; but this welcome which greets us here sur- 

1 The above report of Mr. Seward s remarks is taken from the Free Democrat, published at 
St. Joseph, Misaonri. 


passes anything that we have experienced in our sojournings from Bangor, in the 
state of Maine, to this place. The discovery that here there is so much of kind 
ness for us. so much of respect and consideration, takes us by surprise. I will 
confess freely that it affects us with deep sensibility, for we did not propose to 
visit St. Joseph.. There is a land beyond you a land redeemed and saved for 
freedom, through trials and sufferings that have commended its young and grow 
ing people to the respect of mankind and to our peculiar sympathy. 

" We proposed to be quiet travelers through the state of Missouri, hoping and 
expecting without stopping here, to rest this night on the other side of the Mis 
souri, where we knew we would be welcome. [A voice We won t hurt you. ] 
No, I know you won t hurt me. The man who never wished evil to any human 
being, who challenges enemies as well as friends to show the wrong with which 
any being made in his own form can accuse him when he comes before the bar of 
justice, has no fear of being harmed in the country of his birth and of his affection. 
But I stated that, not merely for the purpose of showing how agreeable is this 
fraternal welcome. It is full of promise. I pass over all that has been said to me 
of consideration for myself. There are subjects on which I take no verdict from 
my fellow citizens. I choose to take the approbation, if I can get it, of my own 
conscience, and to wait till a future age for the respect and consideration of man 
kind. But I will dwell for one moment on this extraordinary scene, full of assur 
ance on many points, and interesting to every one of you as it is to me. 

" The most cheering fact, as it is the most striking one in it, is that we who are 
visitors and pilgrims to Kansas, beyond you, find that we have reached Kansas 
already on the northern shores of the Missouri river. Now come up here if 
there are any such before me you, who are so accustomed to sound an alarm 
about the danger of a dissolution of the Union 5 come up here, and look at the 
.scene of Kansas and Missouri, so lately hostile, brought together on either shore 
in the bonds of fraternal affection and friendship. That is exactly what will al 
ways occur whenever you attempt to divide this people and to set one portion 
against another. The moment you have brought the people to the point where 
there is the least degree of danger to the national existence felt, then those whom 
party malice or party ambition have arrayed against each other as enemies, will 
embrace each other as friends and brethren. 

" Let me tell you this simple truth ; that though you live in a land of slavery 
there is not a man among you who does not love slavery less than he loves the 
Union. Nor have I ever met the man who loved freedom so much, under any of 
the aspects involved in the present presidential issues, as he loved the Union, for it 
is only through the stability and perpetuity of this Union that any blessings what 
ever may be expected to descend on the American people. 

" And now, fellow citizens, there is another lesson which this occasion and this 
demonstration teach. They teach that there is no difference whatever in the na 
ture, constitution or character of the people of the several states of this Union, or 
of the several sections of this Union. They are all of one nature, even if they 
are not all native born, and educated in the same sentiments. Although many of 
them came from distant lands, still the very effect of their being American citizens 
is to make them all alike. 

100 MEMOIR. 

" I will tell you why this is so. The reason is simply this : The democratic prin 
ciple that every man ought to be the owner of the soil that he cultivates, and the 
owner of the limbs and the head that he applies to that culture, has been adopted 
in some of the states earlier than in others ; and where it was adopted earliest it 
has worked out the fruits of higher advancement, of greater enterprise, of greater 
prosperity. Where it has not been adopted, enterprise and industry have lan 
guished in proportion. But it is going through ; it is bound to go through. [A 
voice It s not going through here. ] Yes, here. As it has already gone through 
eighteen states of the Union so it is bound to go through all of the other fifteen. 
It is bound to go through all of the thirty-three states of the Union for the simple 
reason that it is going through the world." 

On Monday (September 24), Mr. Seward reached Kansas. As he 
passed down the Missouri river, he was recognized at several places 
on the Missouri and Kansas shores of the river, and saluted with 
cheers, entering into frank and familiar conversations with the peo 
ple. His first step on the soil of Kansas, at Leavenworth, was an 
nounced by the firing of cannon and the shouts of thousands of 
people. He was escorted to the hotel by a procession of citizens, 
including all the mechanics in the city, bearing their various tools 
and implements. Mr. A. C. Wilder, in introducing Mr. Seward to 
the people, spoke of him as the representative of Kansas in the 
senate of the United States. 1 Mr. Seward s remarks in response 
were, at the time, briefly sketched as follows: 

"Mr. Seward began his reply by saying that it was well that he had not the 
voice to enable him to speak at length, for the emotions which were crowding 
upon him could not be expressed in words. He would not have them think him 
wanting in gratitude, if his language failed to express the feelings which oppressed 
him. Many years ago, when he visited General Lafayette, the brave Frenchman 
who fought for us, he saw, at the entrance of his residence, two brass cannons, 
which bore the inscription, Presented by the liberty-loving citizens of Paris. 
Here, at his entrance into Kansas, he found two symbols of the spirit of her free- 
people. The one was the cannon which was booming on the hill near by. He 
had heard that it was captured by the free state men during the commotion which 
existed several years ago, when they were struggling for free institutions. An 
other evidence of the free impulses by which we were animated was the organi 
zation of the wide-awakes whom he saw around him, not in the customary cos 
tume of that body, but as an army of free laboring men carpenters, masons, and 
mechanics of all kinds who had come out, in their working clothes, with their 
tools of all kinds, in a body, to welcome him. Mr. Seward proceeded to pay a 
handsome compliment to the wide-awake club. He then alluded again to the 
subject of free labor, and said that it must be respected as being the foundation of 

i See Appendix. 


our strength and prosperity. Whatever of reputation he had acquired was due- 
mainly to the fact that he had endeavored, in his public capacity, to lay the foun 
dation of free states, and especially the free state of Kansas. He then paid a glow 
ing tribute to the people of this territory. He said they had achieved freedom for 
themselves; and now it was their duty to aid in securing it to the embryo states 
around them. Kansas stood as a sentinel in the pathway to the large region of 
country extending from the British possessions on the north to Texas on the south 
and west beyond the Rocky mountains. It was our duty to give our influence to 
secure freedom to the states which would spring up in that wide domain. Mr. 
Seward then apologized for the brevity of his remarks. He could make but one 
extended speech in this territory, and that would be at Lawrence, on account of 
its central position. He closed by urging the people to cherish the free institutions 
for which they had so long contended. Freedom was not only established here, 
but would eventually prevail in the whole Union, on the whole continent, and 
through the whole world." 

Mr. Seward, desirous of learning the actual condition of Kansas, 
avoided, as far as possible, any further public notice, and traveled by 
private conveyance over as large a portion of the territory as his 
limited time would permit, visiting, especially, Lecompton and To- 
peka. At the latter place he was, although entirely unexpected, 
honored with salutes from cannon. He pertinaciously declined to 
address the people, bat received them all, of both sexes, in a free 
and easy conversational manner, mingling with them in the streets 
"by the light of their bonfires. 

It had already been arranged that he should speak at Lawrence on 
the twenty-sixth. On that day, as he approached the city, he was 
met by an immense cavalcade of citizens, and conducted to the place 
.appointed for the meeting. Here he was welcomed to the city and 
territory, in eloquent speeches 1 by Mayor Deitzler and G-overnor 
Eobinson, and by the enthusiastic and hearty cheers of the people. 
Mr. Seward s speech, on this occasion, is a condensed but eloquent 
review of the struggle for freedom in Kansas, containing vivid pic 
tures of its beautiful scenery, with touching allusions to its impend 
ing calamity. 2 It will be found in another part of this volume, and 
should be read in this connection, as a portion of the history of Mr. 
Seward s visit to Kansas. Its delivery was hailed with the most 
enthusiastic plaudits of the people, who had come from all parts of 
the territory, some of them long distances on foot. The day was 
-closed with the festivities of a public dinner and ball. 

i See Appendix. 2 Kansas, as is well known, was then guttering from a drouth of unparal 
leled severity, which had prevented the raising of any kind of grain or vegetable food. 

102 MEMOIR. 

On the next morning Mr. Seward left Lawrence, turning his steps, 
for the first time, eastward and homeward. Hoping to escape any 
further attention in Leaven worth, he arrived in that city in the eve 
ning. But the wide-awakes and the citizens generally had assembled 
in large numbers, awaiting his appearance. With the usual accom 
paniments of music and torchlights, he reentered the city. Unable 
to resist the demands made upon him, he took the stand which had 
been erected in front of the hotel for the occasion, and, after the 
cheering had subsided, spoke briefly, as follows : 

"FELLOW CITIZENS: I would talk to you until midnight, pouring forth all my 
most earnest and hopeful thoughts, if I were sure that the outside world could 
know, as you do, that I speak on your compulsion, overcoming more determined 
resolutions of silence than I ever before had formed in similar circumstances. 

" I sometimes allow myself to indulge speculations concerning the period \vhen 
there shall be on this continent no other power than the United States ; and a new 
constitution of human society opens itself before me when I contemplate the 
influence then to be wrought on Europe and on Asia by the American people, 
situated midway between the abodes of western and oriental civilization. One 
great, influential state must then exist here, west of the Mississippi and east of 
the Rocky mountains. Which would that great and influential state be ? It ought 
to be Missouri. It certainly would have been, if her people had. from the first. 
been as wise as you are. I do not, indeed, know, nor think it certain, that Mis 
souri will not yet be that great and influential state ; for there is hope there is 
assurance that Missouri, taught, though slowly and reluctantly, by the instructions 
and example of Illinois, Iowa, and especially Kansas, will consent to become a 
free state. She has, with vast dimensions, a soil as fertile and skies as genial, and 
a position for commerce as favorable, as those with which God has blessed any 
part of the earth. She has need, however, to study the moral conditions of 
national greatness. 

"The fundamental moral conditions of a state, or a republic, are simply these r 
that every man shall enjoy equal and exact justice, and thus have the fullest oppor 
tunity for improving his own condition, his intellect, and his heart, and to win the 
rewards of character and of influence on society and on mankind. In this respect,, 
you, the people of Kansas, have passed Missouri, and are ahead even of Nebraska, 
Iowa, and every other state in the American Union. All other states have com 
promised more or less of these conditions. A stern experience of wrong received 
from slavery has awakened among you a love of freedom, and a discriminating- 
appreciation of its value, that can never admit of demoralization. You alone have 
escaped demoralization, which all the other states have, at some times and in some 
degrees, undergone. Freedom, and not slavery, in the territories of the United 
States, has been, in fact, only an abstract question in other states. But here it 
has been a vital, an inspiring, a forming principle. Your territory was made the 
active arena of that irrepressible conflict between free labor and slave labor, 
where it came to the trial of mind with mind, of voice with voice, of vote with 
vote, of bullet against bullet, and of cannon against cannon. You have ac- 


quired, practically, and through dangers and sufferings, the education and the dis- 
upline and the elevation of freedom. 

" If there is a people in any part of the world I ought to cherish with enduring 
respect, with the warmest gratitude and with the deepest interest, assuredly it is 
the people of Kansas; for, but for the practical trial you have given to the system 
which I had adopted but for the vindication, at so much risk and so much cost, 
of your highest rights under the law, I must have gone to my grave a disappointed 
man, a false teacher, in the estimation of the American people. Yours is the 
thirty-first of thirty-four states of the Union which I have visited for the purpose 
of knowing their soils their skies, and their people. I have visited, in the course 
of my lifetime, more than three-fourths of the civilized nations of the world ; and 
of all the states and nations which I have seen, that people which I hold to be the 
wisest, the worthiest, and the best, is the people of this little state. The reason 
of it is expressed in the old proverb, handsome is that handsome does. If other 
nations have higher education and greater refinement, and have cultivated the 
virtues and accomplishments of civilized life more than you have, I have yet to see 
any other nation or people that has been able, in its infancy, in its very organization, 
to meet the shocks of the aristocratic system through which other nations have 
been injured or ruined, to repel all attacks, overcome all hindrances, and to come 
out before the world in the attitude of a people who will not, under any form of 
persuasion, seduction or intimidation, consent, any one of them, to be a slave, any 
one of them to make a slave, any one of them to hold a slave, or consent that any 
foot of their territory shall be trodden by a slave, or by a man who is not equal 
to every other man in the view of the constitution and of the laws." 

At Atchison city lie was again detained by the people, who had 
prepared for him a most flattering reception. A triumphal arch 
formed of oak trees bore the inscription, " Welcome to Seward, the 
defender of Kansas and of Freedom." The houses in the city were 
covered with festoons made of oak boughs. He was received by 
the mayor under a banner, bearing the motto "THE SUBDUERS ARE 
THEMSELVES SUBDUED." Apparently, the whole population of the 
city and neighborhood had assembled to meet him. After being 
introduced to the people, in an appropriate speech by the mayor, 1 
Mr. Seward addressed them as follows : 

" Referring to the apology made by Mr. Martin, for the inadequacy of the re 
ception, he said that they might judge of what he himself thought of it, when he 
delared to them that his welcome bore all the impress of those that he had seen 
given in other countries to hereditary princes. Compared with other demon 
strations in the territory, this was unsurpassed. 3 He said he had tried to avoid 
all such demonstrations which only tend to make him misunderstood, for the world 

1 The Mayor was a democrat. General Pomeroy, also made a few remarks, followed by General 
Nye in an eloquent speeeh. 
3 Atchis-oi) was one of the "border rnflian towns on the Missouri river. 

104 M E M O I K . 

might think that in coming to Kansas he came to receive honors, instead of com 
ing to learn what was necessary to enable him to perform his duty to her citizens 
and their cause, better than he had heretofore been able to do. 

" I find," said he, " the territory of Kansas as rich if not richer, in its soil and in 
its resources of material prosperity, than any state with which I have been 
acquainted, and I have already visited thirty-one of the thirty-four states of the 
Union. In climate, I know of none that seems to be so desirable. It is now suf 
fering, in its southern and western counties more especially, the privations of want, 
falling very heavily on its latest settlers, resulting from the absence of rain for a 
period of ten or twelve months. I go out of the territory of Kansas with a sad 
ness that hangs over and depresses me, not because I have not found the country 
far surpassing all my expectations of its improvement and cultivation, not because 
I have not found here a prosperous and happy people, but because I have found 
families, some from my own state, some from other states and some from foreign 
countries, who were induced, and justly and wisely induced, to come to this region 
within the last year or two, and who, having exhausted all their means and all 
their resources in establishing homes for themselves, have been disappointed in 
gaining from their labor, provision for the supply of their wants. And all this the 
result of a desolating drought which pervades a large portion of the state. 

" I hope that the tales which I have heard are exaggerated, and that families 
are not actually perishing for want in some of the western counties of Kansas. I 
have faith in the complete success of your system, and in the ultimate prosperity 
and development of the state of Kansas ; I have it for the most obvious reason, 
that if. Kansas is a failure my whole life has been worse than a failure ; but if 
Kansas shall prove a success, as I know it will, then I shall stand redeemed, at 
least in history, for the interest I have taken in the establishment of civilization 
on the banks of the Missouri river upon the principles and policy which you have 
laid down. I pray you, you who are rich, you who are prosperous, to appoint 
active and careful men to make researches in the territory for those who are suf 
fering by this dreadful visitation of Providence ; to take care that the emigrant 
who came in last winter and last spring be not suffered, through disappointment 
and want, to return to the state whence he came, carrying back a tale of suffering 
and privation and distress which might retard for years the development of society 
here. I hope you will not regard this advice of mine as being without warrant. 
I give it for your own sake, I give it for the sake of the people of Kansas, as well 
as because rny sympathies have been moved by the distress I have seen around 
me. If this advice shall be taken in good part, then I am free to tell you, that in 
m 7 judgment, there is not the least necessity for any person leaving this territory, 
Both-withstanding the greatness of the calamity that has befallen it, I have seen 
whole districts that have produced neither the winter wheat, nor the spring wheat, 
nor the rye, nor the buckwheat, nor the potato, nor the root of any kind ; yet I have 
seen on all your prairies, upland and bottom land, cattle and horses in great num 
bers, and all of them in perfect condition ; and I am sure that there is a surplus 
supply of stock in this territory which, if disposed of, would produce all that is 
necessary to relieve every one in the territory. What is required, therefore, is 
simply that you should seek out want where it exists, and apply your own surplus 
means to relieve it. If this should fail, and if you should feel it necessary to ap 
ply to your countrymen in the east for aid, I will second that appeal, I and the 


gentlemen who have been visiting the country with me, and it will not be our 
fault if we do not send back from the east the material comforts that will cheer 
and reanimate those who are depressed and suffering. This state, larger than any 
of the old thirteen states, has not one acre that is unsusceptible of cultivation ; 
not one foot that may not be made productive of the supplies of the wants of 
of human life, comforts and luxuries. 

" The question was propounded to me, not of my seeking ; it came before me. 
because I was in a position where I must meet all questions of this kind; it came 
some six years ago: Do the interests of human society require that this land of 
Kansas should be possessed by slaveholders and cultivated with slaves, or possessed 
and cultivated by free men, every one of whom shall own the land which he cul 
tivates and the muscles with which he tills the earth ? When I look back at that 
period, only six or seven years ago, it seems strange to me that any man living on 
this continent, himself a free man and having children who are free, himself a free 
laborer and having children who must be free laborers, himself earning his own 
subsistence and having children who must depend on their own efforts for their 
support, should be willing to resign a portion of this continent so great, a soil so rich, 
a climate so genial, to the support of African negroes instead of white men. 

" Africa was not crowded so as to need that her children should have Kansas. 
Africa has never sent to this country one voluntry exile or emigrant, and never will. 
The sons of Africa have lands which for them are more productive, have habits 
more congenial and skies better tempered than yours are. I have supposed it far 
better, therefore, to leave the people of Africa where God planted them, on their 
native shores. But the case was different with men of my own race, the white 
men, the blue-eyed men, the yellow-haired men of England, of Ireland, of 
Scotland, of France, of Germany, of Italy. Ever since this continent was dis 
covered, oppression in every form has been driving them from those lands to seek 
homes for their subsistence and support on this continent. There is no difference 
between us all except this: that my father was driven out of Europe by want 
and privation some hundred years ago, and others some hundred years later, and 
some have just come, and tens of thousands, aye, millions, have yet to come. We 
are all exiles directly, or represent those who were exiles ; all exiles made by op 
pression, superstition and tyranny in Europe. We are of one family, race and 
kindred, all here in the pursuit of happiness, all seeking to improve our condition, 
all seeking to elevate our character. My sympathies have gone with this 
class of men. My efforts have been, as they must always be, to lay open before 
them the vast regions of this continent, to the end that we may establish here a 
higher, a better, and a happier civilization than that from which ourselves or our 
ancestors were exiled in foreign lands. 

" This land should not only be a land of freedom, a land of knowledge and re 
ligion, but it should be, above all, a land, which as yet cannot be said with truth of 
any part of Europe or any other part of the world, a land of civil liberty ; and a land 
can only be made a land of liberty by adopting the principle which has never yet 
obtained in Europe, and which is only to be attained by learning it from ourselves, 
that is, that every human being, being necessarily born the subject of a govern 
ment, is a member of the state, and has a natural right to be a member of the 
state, and that, in the language of the Declaration of Independence, all men are 
born equal and have inalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, 

VOL. IV. 14 

106 MEMOIR. 

Some of the states were not established on this principle. They were established 
a long time ago, and under circumstances which prevented the adoption of this 
principle. For those states, members of our Union, who have been unable or even 
unwilling to adopt this principle, I have only to say that I leave them free to en 
joy whatever of happiness, and to attain whatever of prosperity, they can enjoy 
and attain with their system. But when I am called upon to establish a govern 
ment for a new- state, then I demand the application of the principles of the Dec 
laration of Independence, that every man ought to be and shall be a free man. 
"Society can have but two forms by which the individual can defend himself from 
oppression. One is that which puts a musket into his hand and tells him as the last 
resort to defend himself and his liberty. The other is that which puts into his 
hand the ballot, and tells him in every exigency to defend his rights with the bal 
lot. I do maintain that in founding a new state we have the perfect liberty as 
well as the perfect right to establish a government which shall secure every man 
in his rights; or rather, I do say that you must put into every man s hand, not 
the hands of one, the ballot ; or put into every man s hand, arid not into the hands 
of a few, the bullet, so that every man shall be equal before the law in his power 
as a citizen. All men shall have the ballot, or none; all men shall have the bullet, 
or none." 

Having engaged to be in Chicago on the second of October, Mr. 
Seward was now obliged to pursue his journey with as few delays 
as possible. He left St. Joseph early in the morning of Saturday, 
the thirtieth of September, and reached St. Louis about midnight. 
Here, also, he had hoped to escape any public attention. But the 
telegraph had reported his coming an hour before his arrival, and 
the usual demonstrations of a procession, music and fireworks had 
been quickly prepared for his reception. Notwithstanding the unsea 
sonable hour and the fatigue of a long day s travel, Mr. Seward could 
not resist the earnest appeals of the multitude to address them. It 
was one o clock in the morning when he began to speak. The peo 
ple were, nevertheless, enthusiastic, and attentive in their listening. 

"Mr. Seward said that he had come across the Mississippi, not to see St. Louis 
or the people of Missouri, but to see Kansas, which was entitled to his gratitude 
and respect. Missouri could take care of herself: she did not care for republican 
principles, but warred with them altogether. If, forty years ago, Missouri had 
chosen to be a free state, she would now have four millions of people, instead of 
one million. He was a plain-spoken man, and was here talking treason in the 
streets of St. Louis. He could not talk anything else, if he talked as an honest 
man ; but he found himself out of place here. Here, said he, are the people of 
Missouri, who ask me to make a speech, and, at the same time, have laws regulat 
ing what I shall say. The first duty that you owe to your city and to yourselves 
is to repeal and abrogate every law on your statute book that prohibits a man from 
eaying what his honest judgment and sentiment and heart tell him is the truth. 


Though I have said these hard things about the state of Missouri, I have no hard 
sentiments about it or St. Louis, for I have great faith and hope nay, absolute 
trust in Providence and the American people. What Missouri wants is courage r 
resolution, spirit, manhood not consenting to take only that privilege of speech 
that slaveholders allow, but insisting on complete freedom of speech. 

"But I have full trust that it will all come right in the end; that, in ten years r 
you will double your population, and that, in fifteen or twenty years, you will 
have four millions of people. To secure that, you have but to let every man who* 
comes here, from whatever state or nation, speak out what he believes will pro 
mote the interests and welfare of mankind. What surprised me in Kansas was 
to see the vast improvements made there within six years, with so little wealth OF 
strength among the people ; and what surprises me most in Missouri is, that, with 
such a vast territory and with such great resources, there is, after so long a settle 
ment, so little of population, improvement and strength to be found. I ought not r 
perhaps, to talk these things to you. I should have begun at the other end of the 
story. But how could I ? It is true, a citizen of any other state has as much 
liberty here as the citizens of Missouri ; but he has less liberty than I like. I want 
more than you have. I want to speak what I think, instead of what a Missouri an 
thinks. I certainly want to speak for myself, or else not to speak at all. Is not 
that fair ? I think you are in a fair way of shaming your government into an 
enlightened position on this subject of slavery. You are in the way of being 
Germanized into it. I would much rather you had got into it by being Ameri 
canized instead of G-ermanized; but it is better to come to it through that way 
than not to come to it at all. 

" It was through the Germans Germanizing Great Britain that Magna Charta- 
was obtained, and that that great charter of English liberty came to be the char 
ter of the liberties of the sons of England throughout the whole world. What 
ever lies in my power to do to bring into successful and practical operation the 
great principle that this government is a government for free men and not for 
slaves or slaveholders, and that this country is to be the home of the exile from 
every land, I shall do. This, however, can only be done by the exercise of free 
speech. You can do little yourselves in the same direction until you have secured 
free debate. Therefore, I finish, as I began, by exhorting you to secure freedom 
of speech. That on.ce gained, all other freedoms shall be added thereto." l 

Mr. Seward resumed his journey early on Monday morning. At 
Springfield, Illinois, the home of Abraham Lincoln, the train stopped 
for twenty minutes. Mr. Seward was cordially greeted here by a 
great crowd of the citizens, among whom were Mr. Lincoln and 
Senator Trumbull. Mr. Seward. in response to the general desire, 
made a few remarks to the people assembled. Standing on the plat 
form of the car, in company with his distinguished friends, after the 
cheers of the multitude and the firing of cannon had ceased, he said : 

1 Mr. Seward s remarks were loudly cheered. It was replied that the laws against free speech 
were a dead letter, and that St. Louis was already a free city " as free as Boston." 

108 MEMOIR. 

" I am happy to express, on behalf of the party with whom I am traveling, our 
gratitude and acknowledgments for this kind and generous reception at the home 
of your distinguished fellow citizen, our excellent and honored candidate for the 
chief magistracy of the United States. If there k in any part of the country a 
deeper interest felt in his election than there is in any other part, it must of course 
be here, where he has lived a life of usefulness; where he is surrounded by the 
companions of his labors and of his public services. We are happy to report to 
you, altlrough we have traveled over a large part of the country, we have found 
no doubtful states. 

" You would naturally expect that I should say something about the temper 
.and disposition of the state of New York. The state of New York will give a 
generous and cheerful and effective support to your neighbor Abraham Lincoln. 
I have heard about combinations and coalitions there, and I have been urged from 
the beginning to abandon this journey and turn back on my footsteps. Whenever 
I shall iind any reason to suspect that the majority which the state of New York 
will give for the republican candidate will be less than sixty thousand votes, I 
may do so. The state of New York never fails never flinches. She has. been 
committed from the beginning, as she will be to the end, under all circumstances, 
to the great principles of the republican party. 

" She voted to establish this a land of freedom for you in 1787. She sustained 
the ordinance of 87 till you were able to take care of yourselves. Among the 
first acts of her government, she abolished slavery for herself. She has known 
nothing of compromises, nothing of condition or qualification in this great prin 
ciple, and she never will. She will sustain your distinguished neighbor because 
she knows he is true to this great principle, and when she has helped to elect 
him, by giving as large a majority as can be given by any half dozen other states, 
then you will find that she will ask less, exact less, from him, and support him 
more faithfully than any other state can do. That is the way she did with John 
Quincy Adams, that is the way she sustained General Taylor, and that is the way 
she will sustain Abraham Lincoln." 

Mr. Seward reached Chicago about seven o clock in the evening. 
The depot, and the streets around, were crowded with people. An 
imposing escort accompanied him to the hotel. The streets through 
which the procession passed were thronged with enthusiastic multi 
tudes. Fireworks were displayed from many of the public and 
private buildings, and the whole scene was a grand ovation. At the 
hotel, Mr. Seward, alighting from the carriage, reached the house 
only by the efficient intervention of the police, returning the saluta 
tions of the people as he passed. He soon appeared on the balcony 
in company with John Wentworth, the mayor of Chicago. After 
an introductory speech 1 from the mayor, Mr. Seward addressed the 
large assemblage as follows: 

See Appendix. 


" MR. MAYOR AND FELLOW CITIZENS : The exaggerated terms in which you have 
spoken of such public services, recent or long past, as I have rendered will not 
mislead me. I have a stern conscience, the approval of which I must seek, and 
which must be the guide for my public conduct. But I should be ungracious to 
you, and ungrateful to my fellow citizens, who have honored me with this magnifi 
cent manifestation of their respect and esteem, if I did not freely and openly 
confess my entire satisfaction with its sincerity and my appreciation of the affec 
tion and respect which it testifies. How deeply, how sincerely that respect and 
affection touch me, there is nobody but myself can know, and I, unfortunately, 
can never tell. [A voice, Louder! ] I beg pardon, my dear friend, I can speak 
no louder ; I have been speaking for a month. You must take me as I am. If 
I had possessed the power I should have done more than I have already, else 
where. Besides I have some duty to perform to-morrow. 

MR. MAYOR AND CITIZENS OF CHICAGO : I may say in almost one sentence all that 
I can claim for myself. From my earliest experience as a citizen of this country r 
I was not ignorant of the advance of empire across the Alleghany mountains and 
into the valley of the Mississippi. The number of states, which since my man 
hood, have been added to the Federal Union, and their location in the west are- 
hardly more certain in my knowledge now than they were in my conjectured 
anticipation at that early period. 

" And I knew another truth, which has been a guide to me throughout my 
experience as a representative man ; I knew that, whereas in other countries 
commerce and those engaged in it had been the controlling element and the 
controlling power of modern civilization ; yet that in this country and under the 
circumstances surrounding us, commerce was not to be the controlling power, but 
that I have never been ignorant nevei for a moment been unconscious that the 
political power which directs the destinies of this nation, is exercised by those of our 
countrymen who cultivate the soil, not those who sell its products in the market. 

Even the wayfaring man, though a fool, might know where the mass of those 
people who should till the soil would be found. They could be found nowhere 
else but westward from the Alleghany mountains, and eastward from the Pacific- 
ocean, somewhere between British America on the one side and the gulf of Mex 
ico on the other. This being so, it has seemed to me the simplest duty of policy 
to take care that those people who were to till the soil this American soil and 
in the act of cultivating it become the rulers of the destinies of this mighty nation r 
should, in the first place, be located, as far as circumstances would allow, not upon 
slave soil, but upon free soil that they should not be owned by masters or 
owners, but that they should own themselves. And if my public life, my present 
system that which I commend to the acceptance of my countrymen with such 
ability as I may have need any exposition whatever, this is the simple truth and. 
the whole of it. 

" Neither you nor I have any power to disturb those of our fellow citizens in 
the southern states who maintain a different system ; and having no power there 
we have no responsibility. We need not fear that right, and justice, and human 
ity, will not prevail in this world, even though we are not in all the fields where 
battles are to be fought, or instructions are to be given to secure their triumph, 
There have been already six of the thirteen original states of this confederacy 
redeemed by the citizens of those states themselves, without interference or inter- 

110 MEMOIR. 

vention from abroad. All the others that remain may be left under the influence 
the increasing influence of Christianity, to say nothing of policy, to deliver 
themselves from that curse from which we have been saved without any interfer 
ence of our own. 

/ " Non-intervention in the states by free men is but half, however, of the motto 
of the republican party non-intervention by slaveholders in the territories of 
the United States is the residue. ) 

" And so, having abused your hospitality and kindness by setting forth a creed, 
which I had better reserved for another occasion, I beg you to accept my apology 
for failing to deliver you a longer address now, and to accept my best wishes that 
you may repose in peace and quiet to-night, and to-morrow, although it is said to 
be a great loan to ask, I will pray you to lend me your ears and I will try to see 
how many of them I can fill." 

The trains and steamboats which arrived during the night and 
early the following morning brought into Chicago, from all the north 
ern portions of Illinois and vicinity, an unprecedented number of 
people. 1 At noon, a hundred thousand had filled the city. Mr. 
Seward spoke, in an open square, to as many as could come within 
the reach of his voice, while thousands, at the same time, were lis 
tening in other places to James W. Nye and Owen Lovejoy. Mr. 
Se ward s speech, which will be found in succeeding pages, is one of 
the most interesting of the series made by him during the campaign. 
It touched the hearts of the thousands who heard it, and of the mil 
lions who have read it. In the evening Mr. Seward was serenaded 
by the wide-awakes, in a procession that seemed interminable. 

He left Chicago on the following day, arriving in Cleveland on the 
morning of the fourth. The day was rainy, but a handsome recep 
tion was given to him by the citizens of Cleveland and its neighbor 
hood, who, in large numbers, assembled in the city park, where he 
was to speak. He commenced with an earnest appeal for the starv 
ing population of Kansas : 

" We have visited Kansas, and I ask your leave to bring the condition of that 
territory before you, for your careful and kind consideration. The soil and the 
skies of Kansas are as propitious as any people on earth ever enjoyed the people 
as free, as true, and as brave as any in the world. They are suffering severely 
from a drought so great that I think it was scarcely exaggerated when they told 
me they had had no rain in a large portion of the territory for a whole year. We 
found that whole districts had produced less vegetable support for human life than 
are to be found in many a garden which we have passed in coming through the 
state of Ohio. Districts in which the winter wheat, sowed last year, was neces- 

. The number was estimated at over fifty thousand. 


sarily plowed up, and sowed in the spring with spring wheat. The spring wheat 
was plowed up, and the ground planted with corn. The corn proved a failure, 
and was followed with potatoes. The potatoes were blasted, and followed by 
buckwheat, which also proved a failure. I think that this is a true description of 
the condition of tillage in perhaps two-thirds of Kansas. Still, there will be no 
treat famine or distress there. 

" The occupants who have been there for two, three, four or five years are com 
fortable and well-to-do, as appears abundantly from their stock, their fences, 
their dwelling houses framed of wood, and very often substantially and 
well built of brick and stone. Large portions of the state are as populous, and 
exhibit all the signs of comfort and thrift, equal to what are found even in Ohio. 
But there are emigrants who have resided there for only a year whose whole 
means have been expended in procuring farms and shelter, and planting their 
crops, which have successively failed. Many of these are leaving the territory 
some say so many as one hundred a day. They ought to be relieved, and a very 
little assistance would enable them to remain there and retain their possessions and 
improvements, and resume the culture of their fields, under more favorable auspi 
ces, next spring. With much diffidence, I beg to commend this subject to the 
citizens of Ohio. Perhaps a larger portion of the republicans of Kansas are emi 
grants from Ohio than from any other state. Do not forget that Kansas is the 
most important outpost of the republican army; that it is yet, on paper at least, 
in a state of siege ; though the enemy has been driven out, a treaty of peace and 
independence has not yet been signed." 

At Erie, in Pennsylvania, Mr. Seward made a few remarks to the 
eager crowd ; and at various places on the way he met with a friendly 
and enthusiastic greeting. At Buffalo, where he remained over 
night, a brilliant display of wide-awakes and a large gathering of 
citizens called from him the following brijf speech : 

" FELLOW CITIZENS : I understand this demonstration. [Here there were com 
plaints of disorder.] It is only kindness that makes it turbulent. But in order 
that you may hear a voice which has been exercised for five weeks, it will be 
necessary for you to hold your tongues and open your ears. I am now within a 
hundred and fifty miles of my home, and I remember so much of the Scriptures 
as this, namely, that a prophet is not without honor save in his own country. 
So I am not going to prophesy so near my own place of residence. I thank you 
sincerely for this welcome of myself and of the party with whom I have been 
traveling in the far west, f I have seen, within a year, all the principal peoples 
who inhabit the shores of the Mediterranean ; and within the last five weeks have 
journeyed among the population dwelling along the Mediterranean coasts of 
America. I have seen those decayed and desolate countries the sites of the 
greatest nations of antiquity now covered with ruins, and some in a state almost 
of semi-barbarism. The chief cause of that decay and desolation I believe to have 
been the existence in those countries of human bondage. The one great evil 
which could bring down our country to such a level, would be the introduction 

112 MEMOIR. 

of slavery into the lands surrounding the Mediterranean of America. Therefore 
it is that I have devoted what little talent I possess to prevent the ban of slavery 
from falling upon the fertile valleys of the Mississippi and Missouri. Having seen 
many states, I come back to New York, prouder of her, and prouder that I belong 
to her, than I was when I left. I estimate her so highly, not alone for what she 
is or has, at home, but also for what she is and has in the great west. While I see 
around me here, so many generous and noble men endeavoring to maintain her in 
her proud position, I have also found, all along the shores of the great lakes, along 
the banks of the great rivers, and even at the foot of the Rocky mountains, chil 
dren of the state of New York, almost as numerous as at home. Wisconsin, 
Michigan, Illinois, and Kansas, are all daughters of New York ; so is California ; 
and more states have been formed under her auspices, than there were at the 
beginning of the Union. Emigrants from Erie county, from Chautauqua, from 
Cattaraugus, from Oswego, and from all the counties of this great state, people 
the west. It was a son of New York who first applied steam to locomotion ; a 
citizen of New York, and also its chief magistrate, who began and perfected the 
Erie canal, and over that canal the stream of emigration has flowed which has 
founded new states. It has carried, sometimes, in a day, the people of a western 
town, a county in a few weeks, and a state in two or three years. New York 
has built the west. But I am, perhaps, speaking in too general terms. Doubtless 
the spirit which animates you at present, is roused in regard to the coming elec 
tion. It will gladden you when I say, in relation to the west, that I have had 
assurances there which leave no doubt that it will give its vote for Lincoln. I 
have seen him at his own home, and I have now to say, as I said before I went 
abroad, that he is a man eminently worthy of the support of every honest voter, 
and well qualified to discharge the duties of the chief magistracy. Above all, he 
is reliable ; and I repeat at the foot of lake Erie what I said at the head of it, that 
if it had fallen to me to name a man to be elected as next president of the United 
States, I would have chosen Abraham Lincoln. I have promised out west that 
the state of New York will give him sixty thousand majority in November. 

Now, my friends, I wish to know what you can say for Erie county. What majo 
rity will Erie county give ? [Twenty-five hundred out of the city of Buffalo.] 
Aye, you count majorities in the rural districts. That is right and safe too. It is 
very fortunate that, whatever may be the case with the population on the side 
walks, the rural districts are safe for freedom. Why, gentlemen, you couldn t take 
any man three months from Main street, out into the free, open country, without 
converting him from democracy and making him so that he would never think of 
voting for a democratic candidate, or a two-faced candidate, or a candidate with 
half-a-dozen principles. Well ! we ll see what we can do with the cities this time. 
When the cities begin to find out that they are not going to rule the country, they 
will conclude, perhaps, that it is better that they agree with the country. It is 
very strange that Irishmen and Germans and Swedes, so long as they remain on 
the sidewalks, should wish to be ruled by men in the interest of the slave power. 
But you say, it is not so here. I have been west, and have seen foreigners there 
also who did not wish to be ruled by slaveholders. But I have already talked 
more than I had intended, and must stop. You wish to hear about Kansas ? I 
will tell you. Whenever the city of Buffalo shall have come to be inhabited by 
one hundred thousand, or one hundred and nine thousand which is just the 


population of Kansas as virtuous, as wise, as brave, as fearless as the one hun 
dred and nine thousand of Kansas, there will be an end of the irrepressible con 
flict here, as there is there." 

Mr. Seward reached his home, in Auburn, on Saturday, October 
6th, having been absent just five weeks. In a speech to his neigh 
bors and fellow citizens of Auburn, on the 5th of November follow 
ing, he says : 

" I have been a wanderer of late. From our own laughing home here on the 
banks of the Owasco, to where the Green mountains cast their lengthened sha 
dows over the Connecticut at Windsor. After a stay there too short for rest, but 
not for happiness, to the springs of the Penobscot. From the Penobscot escaping 
or breaking through nets set for me by not unfriendly hands, to renew my oath of 
fealty at the tombs of the elder and the younger Adams, at Quincy. From Mas 
sachusetts Bay across green hills and greener valleys, over the Hudson, across the 
ISeneca, up and down the G-enesee, and coasting the lakes of Ontario, Erie, Huron 
and Michigan, down the Illinois to its confluence with the Mississippi, up the shri 
veled river to where it breaks into rapids ; and above them where the fountains 
which supply equally the St. Lawrence and the Mississippi, gush from the earth. 
Across Minnesota and loWa, down to Nebraska and Kansas, where American civi 
lization, on its verge, is scaling the Rocky mountains, and bringing forth their pre 
cious treasure of silver and gold ; and thence back again with an eager returning 
spirit to the Metropolis where sits the soul that sends forth all the mighty energy 
of that civilization ; and then by a hurried flight back again in the night to find 
my home leafless under the winds of autumn, but already gathering force to put 
forth a greener and broader foliage in the coming year. 

" These are my travels. You will ask me what have you seen ; what have 
you learned ? Rather, my friends, ask me what I have not seen, and what un 
known, or but imperfectly understood before, I have not learned now and fully 
understand. I have seen a great nation, a greater nation than I saw last year, 
although then I traveled the Old World from the Dead sea to the pillars of Hercu 
les ; a greater nation than has existed in ancient or in modern times. I saw not 
only the country, its forests, its mountains, its rivers, its lakes, and its prairies, but 
I saw its people, men, women and children, many, many millions of every nation 
and of every derivation." 

As the day of election approached it became evident that the re 
sult depended upon the vote of the state of New York. The Oc - 
tober elections in Pennsylvania and Indiana indicated a republican 
triumph in November, unless the electoral vote of New York could 
be wrested from Lincoln. The whole contest, therefore, at once, cen 
tered upon the Empire State. The three branches of the opposi 
tion, the supporters of Douglas, Bell and Breckinridge, united upon 
one electoral ticket. The alarm of disunion was raised. The city 

VOL. IV. 15 

114 MEMOIR. 

of New York was convulsed with a financial panic ; and no efforts 
were spared to extend the alarm into all parts of the state. It was 
everywhere proclaimed that only the defeat of Lincoln could save 
the country from ruin. In this crisis, as heretofore, the people 
turned to Mr. Seward. He was pressed to speak in almost every 
county in the state. In one of his letters declining an invitation, he 

" My friends will ultimately excuse the delinquency I am sure, when they re 
flect that since the 25th of November, 1858, I have had only eighty-five days, all 
told, for the occupations and duties of home, while I not only enjoy no exemption, 
but on the contrary have more than an ordinary burden of domestic cares and 

He found time, however, to address immense assemblages at 
several places within the state. At the earnest request of the re 
publicans of the city of New York, he visited that city a few days 
before the election, and spoke in Palace Garden, to one of the largest 
and most enthusiastic audiences ever seen in New York. His re 
ception in the metropolis was flattering, indeed. At Binghamton, 
Fredonia, Seneca Falls, Lyons, and wherever he appeared, the peo 
ple gathered to hear him, in unusual numbers. 

On the night before the election, as it was his custom, he addressed 
the people of Auburn. His speech on this occasion, although par 
taking of the character of a familiar counsel with neighbors and 
friends, was full of his usual broad and statesmanlike views. It 
fittingly closed the great debate. 1 

The result of the election is too recent to need remark. Every 
free state gave its electoral vote for Abraham Lincoln, except New 
Jersey, which voted four for Lincoln, three for Douglas. The re 
publican majority in the state of New York was over fifty thousand. 
In Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota, as in the New England 
states the opposition seemed to have abandoned the field. In Penn 
sylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Iowa the pluralities for Mr. 
Lincoln were unexpectedly large. Equally unexpected were the 
favorable results in Oregon and California. In the slave states nearly 
thirty thousand votes were cast in favor of Lincoln and Hamlin. 
As the tidings of the result, spread over the free states, joyous 

1 This speech, with those at New York, Seneca Falls, and other places, will be found in subse 
quent pages ot this volume. 


demonstrations, in almost every city and town, burst forth, sponta 

At Auburn the republicans celebrated the national triumph in an 
appropriate manner. The enthusiastic procession which paraded 
the streets, lighted up with fireworks and illuminations, called upon 
Mr. Seward. Gathering within his beautiful grounds in front of his 
house they insisted upon his addressing them. The demonstrations 
of secession, soon so flagrant, were just then revealing themselves. 
After a few humorous remarks in allusion to local incidents and the 
result of the election in their city and county, 1 he spoke as follows: 

V " FELLOW CITIZENS : You have a right to rejoice. I remember that I thought it an 
occasion for rejoicing when the good cause we now maintain carried one ward in 
the city, one or two, or three towns in the county, and the state of Vermont alone 
in the whole country. Who then will deny our right to rejoice now when it 
carries all the wards in the city, all the towns in the county, all the counties in the 
state where its argument is fairly heard, and practically all the slates in the Union 
which allow in law and in fact, free speech, free debates, free mails, and free and 
universal suffrage. It is the earnest of its universal acceptance. 

But there is still greater reason to rejoice in the manner in which this success 
has been won. It is the verdict of the people for a principle the republican 
principle the true democratic principle of equal and exact justice to all men. It 
is a verdict rendered purely on conviction, without passion or interest. Not a 
republican vote in the United States has been procured through terror, not one by 
bribery or corruption. Nay, every vote has been given in resistance of intimida 
tion and corruption. I do not charge that the fusion votes or other opposition 
votes were largely given under such appliances. But the record of the canvass 
remains, and bears its testimony that the main argument of those parties was their 
menace of disunion, and the last reliance was money at the polls. \ Who will now 
libel the American people ? Who will deny their virtue ? 

" But this demonstration of yours has its meaning its meaning in various 
relations. It recalls the past, and tells that the erroneous national policy of forty 
years has been retraced, reconsidered, reversed, condemned and renounced/ Let, 
then, the passions and the prejudices be buried with the errors of the past. It 
bears on the future. It assures us that hereafter the policy of the country will be 
the development of its resources, the increase of its strength and its greatness, by 
the agencies of freedom and humanity. Dismiss we, then, the future, until some 
new election call you again to your council chambers, to renew your efforts in 
obedience to the principle that eternal vigilance is the tax we pay for enduring 

" The immediate question is the bearing of the occasion on the present. What 
is our present duty ? It is simply that of magnanimity. We have learned, here 
tofore, the practice of patience under political defeat. It now remains to show 

1 Cayuga county gave Mr. Lincoln 4.000 majority ; and Auburn 450 an increase over any pre- 
rious election. The gain in the state, from 1856, was nearly one hundred thousand. 

116 MEMOIR. 

the greater virtue of moderation in triumph. That we may do this let us re 
member that it is only as a figure of speech that the use of martial terms, such as 
* defeat and victory, obtain in our system of elections. The parties engaged 
in an election are not, never can be, never must be, enemies, or even adversaries. 
We are all fellow citizens, Americans, brethren. It is a trial of issues by the force 
only of reason ; and the contest is carried to its conclusion, with the use only of 

" An appeal lies from the people this year to the people themselves next year 
to be argued and determined in the same way and so on forever. This is indeed 
a long way to the attainment of rights and the establishment of interests. It is 
our way, however, now as it has been heretofore. Let it be our way hereafter. 
If there be among us or in the country those who think that marshaling armies 
or pulling down the pillars of the republic is a better, because a shorter way, let 
us not doubt that if we commend our way by our patience, our gentleness, our 
affection towards them, they, too, will, before they shall have gone too far, find out 
that our way, the old way, their old way as well as our old way, is not only the 
shortest but the best. 

"Fellow citizens, I should do injustice to you, and violence to my own feel 
ings, if I did not recognize in this visit a warm and most generous demonstration 
of your personal kindness to me. You know how deeply I was committed to the 
triumph of this presidential ticket more than to any other in times that are past, 
and to its triumph more distinct and emphatic, if possible, here than any where 
else. How the eyes of patriots in every part of the country were anxiously fixed 
on this state, on this county, nay, even on this town, to learn whether we were 
true to this crisis, to our cause, our country, and to ourselves. This lent a new and 
intense earnestness to your efforts, and our success, therefore, has exceeded all 
that we dared to promise, though not what we dared to hope. The year 1860, 
how many acts of home kindness has it brought to me from all my neighbors. My 
welcome from abroad sympathy with me in my labors for the country at Wash 
ington the rescue of my dwelling from fire during my absence co-operation 
with me, so earnest, so devoted, so effective in securing the ascendancy of the 
republican cause throughout the Union, these congratulations on its success I 
feel them all more deeply, more gratefully, than I dare express. May you all find 
your rewards in the increasing happiness and growing greatness of our country. 

" And now we part again. You to lay aside the emblems of your political 
association, at least for a time, and to return to your industrial pursuits and social 
enjoyments. I to return to the theatre of public duty at the national capital 
May a kind Providence spare all your lives and continue all the blessings you 
enjoy, and when we meet again in the coming spring season, when these now 
naked trees shall have resumed their wonted foliage, may our hearts be renewed 
in their mutual affections and may all the sullen and angry clouds which seem to 
be gathering in the political atmosphere have then given place to those serene and 
auspicious skies, which properly belong to the only pure and complete republican 
system to be found on the face of the earth." 

The triumph in the country of the principles which Mr. Seward, 
through his whole public life, has so perseveringlj sustained, was 


not more distinctly announced by the election of Abraham Lincoln 
than it was significantly confessed in congress by the prompt admis 
sion of Kansas into the Union a Free State. 

The bill for the admission of Kansas passed the senate on the 
twenty-first day of January, 1861, and received the signature of 
President Buchanan on the thirtieth. 

Mr. Seward, on moving to take up the bill, and while urging its 
immediate passage, pertinently remarked that "If any people have 
the right to self-government, it is the people of Kansas." 

The senators who voted for admission, were Messrs. Anthony, 
Baker, Bigler, Bingham, Bright, Cameron, Chandler, Clark, Collamer, 
Crittenden, Dixon, Doolittle, Douglas, Durkee, Fessenden, Fitch, Foot, 
Foster, Grimes, Hale, Harlan, Johnson of Tennessee, King, Latham, 
Morrill, Pugh, Rice, Seward, Simmons, Sumner, Ten Eyck, Thompson, 
Trumbull, Wade, Wilkinson and Wilson 36. 

Those who voted against it were Messrs. Benjamin, Bragg, Cling- 
man, Green, Hemphill, Hunter, Iverson, Johnson of Arkansas, Ken 
nedy, Mason, Nicholson, Polk, Powell, Sebastian, Slidell and Wig- 
fall 16. 

As soon as the Electors had formally ratified the choice of the 
people, the president elect tendered to Mr. Seward the chief place in 
his cabinet, which, after some deliberation, was accepted, and became 
known to the public. On the twelfth day of January he expressed 
his views in the senate u On the State of the Union} 1 He had pre 
viously, in New York, at the " New England Dinner," made some 
unpremeditated remarks on the same subject, and subsequently, in 
the senate, he delivered a second speech, on the occasion of his pre 
senting a mammoth petition from the merchants of New York. 
These speeches produced, in congress and throughout the country, a 
profound sensation. 1 The first speech begins with this declaration : 

" I avow my adherence to the Union, in its integrity and with all its parts, with 
my friends, with my party, with my state, with my country, or without either, as 
they may determine ; in every event, whether of peace or of war, with every con 
sequence of honor or dishonor, of life or death." 

It closes in the same spirit and with that consistency which marks 
all that Mr. Seward says : 

" I certainly shall never, directly or indirectly, give my vote to establish or sanc 
tion slavery in the common territories of the United States, or anywhere else in 
the world." 

1 They will be found at the close-of this volume. 

118 MEMOIE. 

The scenes attending its delivery in the senate, are thus des 
cribed by a listener : 

; Mr. Seward s speech was the event of the week, and is the topic of discussion 
in all political circles. The scene before and during the delivery of the speech, 
was almost unparalleled in the senate. By ten o clock every seat in the galleries 
was filled, and by eleven the cloak rooms and all the passages were choked up, 
and a thousand men and women stood outside of the doors waiting to catch the 
words of the speaker when he should commence. He did not open his speech til 
nearly one o clock. Several hundred gentlemen come on from Baltimore to hear 
it, and the curiosity among all the southern men here to listen to it was intense. 
The southern senators and representatives paid the utmost attention, and the gal 
leries were as quiet as their suffocating condition would warrant. It was the fullest 
house of the session, and by far the most respectful one. During the delivery of 
portions of the speech, senators were in tears. When the sad picture of the 
country, divided into two confederacies, was presented, Mr. Crittenden, who sat 
immediately before the orator, was completely overcome by his emotions, and 
bowed his white head to weep." 

The eminent Quaker poet and philanthropist, John G. "Whittier, on 
reading the speech, addressed the following lines to Mr. Seward : 

To William H. Seward. 

Statesman, I thank thee! and, if yet dissent 

Mingles, reluctant, with my large content, 

I cannot censure what was nobly meant. 

Bat, while constrained to hold even Union less 

Than Liberty and Truth and Righteousness, 

I thank thee in the sweet and holy name 

Of Peace, for wise calm words that put to shame 

Passion and party. Courage may be shown 

Not in defiance of the wrong alone ; 

He may be bravest who, unweaponed, bears 

The olive branch, and strong in justice, spares 

The rash wrong-doer, giving widest scope 

To Christian charity and generous hope. 

If, without damage to the sacred cause 

Of Freedom and the safeguard of its laws 

If, without yielding that for which alone 

We prize the Union, thou canst save it now 

From a baptism of blood, upon thy brow 

A wreath whose flowers no earthly soil has known, 

Woven of the beatitudes, shall rest ; 

And the peacemaker be forever blest I 




^^L- ^^^^ , 




THIS scene is new to me, a stranger in Ohio, and it must be in a 
degree surprising even to yourselves. On these banks of the Scioto, 
where the elk, the buffalo, and the hissing serpent haunted not long 
ago, I see now mills worked by mute mechanical laborers, and ware 
houses rich in the merchandise of many clirnes. Steeds of vapor on 
iron roads, and electrical messengers on pathways which divide the 
air, attest the concentration of many novel forms of industry, while 
academic groves, spacious courts, and majestic domes, exact the rev 
erence always eminently due to the chosen seats of philosophy, reli 
gion, and government. 

What a change, moreover, has, within the same short period, come 
over the whole country that we love so justly and so well. High 
arcs of latitude and longitude have shrunk into their chords, and 
American language, laws, religion, and authority, once confined to 
the Atlantic coast, now prevail from the northern lakes to the south 
ern gulf, and from the stormy eastern sea to the tranquil western 

Nevertheless, it is not in man s nature to be content with present 
attainment or enjoyment. You say to me, therefore, with excusable 
impatience, " Tell us, not what our country is, but what she shall be. 
Shall her greatness increase ? Is she immortal ?" 

I will answer you according to my poor opinion. But I pray you 
first, most worthy friends, to define the greatness and immortality 
you so vehemently desire. 

1 Oration at the Dedication of Capital University, Columbus, Ohio, September 14, 1853. 
VOL. IV. 16 


If the Future which you seek consists in this : that these thirty- 
one states shall continue to exist for a period as long as human fore 
sight is allowed to anticipate after-coming events ; that they shall be 
all the while free ; that they shall remain distinct and independent in 
domestic economy, and nevertheless be only one in commerce and 
foreign affairs ; that there shall arise from among them and within 
their common domain even more than thirty-one other equal states 
alike free, independent, and united ; that the borders of the federal 
republic, so peculiarly constituted, shall be extended so that it shall 
greet the sun when he touches the tropic, and when he sends his 
glancing rays toward the polar circle, and shall include even distant 
islands in either ocean ; that our population, now counted by tens 
of millions, shall ultimately be reckoned by hundreds of millions; 
that our wealth shall increase a thousand fold, and our commercial 
connections shall be multiplied, and our political influence be enhanced 
in proportion with this wide development, and that mankind shall 
corne to recognize in us a successor of the few great states which 
have alternately borne commanding sway in the world if this, and 
only this, is desired, then I am free to say that if, as you will readily 
promise, our public and private virtues shall be preserved, nothing 
seems to me more certain than the attainment of this future, so sur 
passingly comprehensive and magnificent. 

Indeed, such a future seems to be only a natural consequence of 
what has already been secured. Why, then, shall it not be attained ? 
Is not the field as free for the expansion indicated as it was for that 
which has occurred ? Are not the national resources immeasurably 
augmented and continually increasing? With telegraphs and rail 
roads crossing the Detroit, the Niagara, the St. Johns and the St. 
Lawrence rivers, w r ith steamers on the lakes of Nicaragua, and a rail- 
road across the isthmus of Panama, and with negotiations in progress 
for passages over Tehuantepec and Darien, with a fleet in Hudson s 
bay and another at Bhering s straits, and with yet another exploring 
the La Plata, and with an armada at the gates of Japan, with Mexico 
ready to divide on the question of annexation, and with the Sand 
wich islands suing to us for our sovereignty, it is quite clear to us 
that the motives to enlargement are even more active than they ever 
were heretofore, and that the public energies, instead of being relaxed, 
are gaining new vigor. 


Is the natjon to become suddenly weary, and so to waver and fall 
off from the pursuit of its high purposes? When did any vigorous 
nation ever become weary even of hazardous and exhausting martial 
conquests? Our conquests, on the contrary, are chiefly peaceful, 
and thus far have proved productive of new wealth and strength. Is 
a paralysis to fall upon the national brain ? On the contrary, what 
political constitution has ever, throughout an equal period, exhibited 
greater elasticity and capacity for endurance? 

la the union, of the states to fa^l? Does its strength indeed grow 
less with the multiplication of its bonds ? Or does its value diminish 
with the increase of the social and political interests which it defends 
and protects ? Far otherwise. For all practical purposes bearing on 
the great question, the steam engine, the iron road, the electric tele 
graph, all of which are newer than the Union, and the metropolitan 
press, which is no less wonderful in its working than they, have 
already obliterated state boundaries and produced a physical and 
moral centralism more complete and perfect than monarchical ambi 
tion ever has forged or can forge. Do you reply, nevertheless, that 
the Union rests on the will of the several states, arid that, no matter 
what prudence or reason may dictate, popular passion may become 
excited and rend it asunder? Then I rejoin, When did the Ameri 
can people ever give way to such impulses ? They are, practically, 
impassive. You remind me that faction has existed, and that only 
recently it was bold and violent. I answer, that it was emboldened 
by popular timidity, and yet that even then it succumbed. Loyalty 
to the Union is .not, in one or many states only, but in all the states, 
the strongest of all public passions. It is stronger, I doubt not, than 
the love of justice or even the love of equality, which have acquired 
a strength here never known among mankind before. A nation may 
well despise threats of sedition thatjias never known but one traitor r 
and this will be learned fully by those who shall hereafter attempt 
to arrest any great national movement by invoking from their grave 
the obsolete terrors of disunion. 

But you apprehend foreign resistance. Well, where is our enemy ? 
Whence shall he come ? Will he arise on this continent? Canada 
has great resources, and begins to give signs of a national spirit. 
But Canada is not yet independent of Great Britain. And she will 
be quite too weak to be formidable to us when her emancipation shall 


have taken place. Moreover, lier principles, interests, and sympa 
thies assimilate to our own just in the degree that she verges toward 
separation from the parent country. Canada, although a province 
of Great Britain, is already half annexed to the United States. She 
will ultimately become a member of this confederacy, if we will 
consent an ally, if we will not allow her to come nearer. At least, 
she never can be an adversary. Will Mexico, or Nicaragua, or Gua 
temala, or Ecuador, or Peru, all at once become magically cured of 
the diseases inherited from aboriginal and Spanish parentage, and 
call up armies from under the earth, and navies from the depths of 
the sea, and thus become the Rome that shall resist and overthrow 
this overspreading Carthage of ours ? Or arejve to receive our death-^ 
jtrpke at the hand of Brazil, doubly cursed as she js, above aU_other 
American states^by her adoption of the two most absurd institutions 
remaining among men, European monarchy and American slavery? 

Is an enemy to come forth from the islands in adjacent seas ? 
Where, then, shall we look for him? On the Antilles, or on the 
Bermudas, or on the Bahamas? Which of the conflicting social ele 
ments existing together, yet unmixed, there, is ultimately to prevail? 
Will it be Caucasian or African ? Can those races not only combine, 
but become all at once aggressive and powerful ? 

Shall we look for an adversary in Europe? Napoleon said at St 
Helena, " America is a fortunate country. She grows by the follies 
of our European nations." Since when have those nations grown 
wise ? If they have at last become wise, how is it that America has 
nevertheless not ceased to grow? But what European state will 
oppose us ? Will Great Britain ? If she fears to grapple with Rus 
sia advancing toward Constantinople on the way to India, though 
not only her prestige but even her empire is threatened, will she be 
bold enough to come out of her way to seek an encounter with us? 
Who will feed and pay her artisans while she shall be engaged in 
destroying her American debtors and the American consumers of her 
fabrics? Great Britain has enough to do in replacing in Ireland the 
population that island has yielded to us, in subjecting Africa, in 
extending her mercantile dominion in Asia, and in perpetually read 
justing the crazy balance of power in Europe, so essential to her 
safety. We have fraternal relations with Switzerland, the only repub 
lic yet lingering on that continent. Which of the despotic powers 


existing there in perpetual terror of the contagion of American prin 
ciples will assail us, and thus voluntarily hasten on that universal 
war of opinion which is sure to come at some future time, and which, 
whenever it shall have come, whether it be sooner or later, can end 
only in the subversion of monarchy and the establishment of repub 
licanism on its ruins throughout the world ? 

Certainly no one expects the nations of Asia to be awakened by 
any other influences than our own from the lethargy into which they 
sunk nearly three thousand years ago, under the spells of supersti 
tion and caste. If they could be. roused and invigorated now, 
would they spare their European oppressors and smite their Ameri 
can benefactors ? Nor has the time yet come, if indeed it shall come 
within many hundred years, when Africa, emerging from her pri 
meval barbarism, shall vindicate the equality of her sable races in 
the rights of human nature, and visit upon us, the latest, the least 
guilty and the most repentant of all offenders, the wrongs she has 
so long suffered at the hands of so many of the Caucasian races. 

No ! no, we cannot indeed penetrate the Eternal counsels, but, 
reasoning from what is seen to what is unseen, deducing from the 
past probable conjectures of the future, we are authorized to conclude 
that if the national virtue shall prove sufficient the material pro 
gress of the United States, which equally excites our own pride and 
the admiration of mankind, is destined to indefinite continuance. 

But is this material progress, even to the point which has been 
indicated, the whole of the future which we desire ? It is seen at 
once that it includes no high intellectual achievement, and no extra 
ordinary refinement of public virtue, while it leaves entirely out of 
view the improvement of mankind. Now there certainly is a politi 
cal philosophy which teaches that nations like individuals are equal, 
moral, social, responsible persons, existing not for objects of merely 
selfish advantage and enjoyment, but for the performance of duty, 
which duty consists in elevating themselves and all mankind as high 
as possible in knowledge and virtue ; that the human race is one in 
its origin, its rights, its duties, and its destiny, that throughout the 
rise, progress, and decline of nations, one Divine purpose runs the 
increasing felicity and dignity of human nature and that true 
greatness or glory, whether of individuals or of nations, is justly 
measured, not by the territory they compass, or the wealth they 


accumulate, or the fear they inspire, but by the degree in which 
they promote the accomplishment of that great and beneficent design 
of the Creator of the universe. 

" The great end and object of life," said Socrates, " is the perfec 
tion of the intellect, the great moral duty of man is knowledge, and 
the object of all knowledge is one, namely, Truth, the Good, the 
Beautiful, the Divine Reason." 

So also Plato taught that " Man ought to strive after and devote 
himself to the contemplation of the ONE, the ETERNAL, the INFINITE." 

Cicero wrote, " There are those who deny that any bond of law 
or of association for purposes of common good exists among citizens. 
This opinion subverts all union in a state. There are those who 
deny that any such bond exists between themselves and strangers, 
and this opinion destroys the community of the Human Race." 

Bacon declared that there was in man s nature " a secret love of 
others, which if not contracted, would expand and embrace all men." 

These maxims proceed on the principle of the unity of the race 
and of course of a supreme law regulating the conduct of men and 
nations upon the basis of absolute justice and equality. Locke 
adopted them when he inculcated that while there is a " law of pop 
ular opinion or reputation," which in society is "the measure of 
virtue and vice," and while there is a civil law which in the state is 
" the measure of crime and innocence," there is also a divine law 
which extends over " all society and all states, and which is the only 
touchstone of moral rectitude." 

Guizot closed his recital of the decline of Roman civilization, with 
these equally true and momentous reflections: "Had not the 
Christian church existed at this time the whole world must have 
fallen a prey to mere brute force. The Christian church alone pos 
sessed a moral power. It mairtamed and promulgated the idea of a 
precept, of a law superior to all human authority. It proclaimed 
that great truth, which forms the only foundation of our hope for 
humanity, that there exists a law above all human laws, which by 
whatever name it may be called, whether reason, the law of God, or 
what not, is at all times and in all places the same, under different 

It ought not to excite any surprise when I aver that this philoso 
phy worked out the American Revolution. "Can anything," said 


John Adams, in replying to one who had apologized for the stamp 
act, " Can anything not abominable have provoked you to com 
mence, an enemy to human nature?" 

Alexander Hamilton, though less necessary to the Revolution than 
John Adams, was even more necessary to the reconstruction of 
society. He directed against the same odious stamp act the autho 
rity of British law, as he found it written down by Blackstone: 
" The law of nature being coeval with God himself is of course 
superior to any other. It is binding over all the globe, in all 
countries, and at all time. No human laws are of any validity if 
contrary to this ; and such of them as are valid derive all their au 
thority mediately or immediately from this original." Then, as if 
despising to stand on any mere human authority, however high, the 
framer of the American constitution proceeded : " The sacred rights 
of mankind are not to be rummaged for among old parchments or 
musty records. They are written as with a sunbeam in the whole 
volume of human nature, and can never be erased or obscured by 
mortal power." 

How justly Knox conceived the true character of the chief per 
sonage of the Revolution, even at its very beginning: "The great 
and good Washington, a name which shall shine with distinguished 
lustre in the annals of history, a name dear to the friends of the 
liberties of mankind." 

La Fayette closed his review of the Revolution when returning to 
France with this glowing apostrophe : " May this great temple which 
we have just erected to liberty always be an instruction to oppres 
sors, an example to the oppressed, a refuge for the rights of the 
human race, and an object of delight to the names of its founders." 

"Happy," said Washington when announcing the treaty of peace 
to the army, " thrice happy shall they be pronounced hereafter, who 
shall have contributed anything, who shall have performed even the 
meanest office in erecting this stupendous fabric of freedom and 
empire on the broad basis of independency, who shall have assisted 
in protecting the rights of human nature and establishing an asylum 
for the poor and oppressed of all nations and religions." 

You remember well that the Revolutionary Congress in the Dec 
laration of Independence placed the momentous controversy between 
the colonies of Great Britain on the absolute and inherent equality 


of all men. It is not however so well understood that that body 
closed its existence, on the adoption of the federal constitution, with 
this solemn injunction, addressed to the people of the United States: 
"Let it be remembered that it has ever been the pride and boast of 
America, that the rights for which she contended were the rights 
of human nature." 

No one will contend that our fathers, after effecting the Revolution 
and the independence of their country by proclaiming this system of 
beneficent political philosophy, established an entirely different one 
in the constitution assigned to its government. This philosophy, 
then, is the basis of the American constitution. 

It is moreover a true philosophy, deduced from the nature of man 
and the character of the Creator. If there were no supreme law T 
then the world would be a scene of universal anarchy, resulting 
from the eternal conflict of peculiar institutions and antagonistic 
laws. There being such a universal law, if any human constitutions 
and laws differing from it could have any authority, then that uni 
versal law could not be supreme. That_ ajiprpmp. l^w. is necessarily 
based on the equality of nations, of races, and of men. It is a simple, 
geJLj^evidentJ&sis^ One nation, race, or individual, may not oppress 
or injure another, because the safety and weTTare of eacTTis essential 

>S J 

/ to the common safety and welfare of all. ^ ^^ajj^r^sno^aual and 
then who is entitled to be free, and what evidence of his superi 
ority can he brmgfro^n nature or revelation? All men necessarily 
have a common interest in the promulgation and maintenance of 
these principles, because it is equally in the nature of men to be con 
tent with the enjoyment of their just rights, and to be discontented 
under the privation of them. Just so far as these principles prac 
tically prevail, the stringency of government is safely relaxed, and 
peace and harmony obtained. But men cannot maintain these 
principles, or even comprehend them, without a very considerable 
advance in knowledge and virtue. The law of nations, designed to 
preserve peace among mankind, was unknown to the ancients. It 
has been perfected in our own times by means of the more general 
dissemination of knowledge and practice of the virtues inculcated 
by Christianity. To disseminate knowledge and to increase virtue 
therefore among men, is to establish and maintain the principles on 
which the recovery and preservation of their inherent natural rights 


depend, and the state that does this most faithfully, advances most 
effectually the common cause of human nature. 

For myself, I am sure that this cause is not a dream, but a reality. 
Have not all men consciousness of a property in the memory of 
human transactions available for the same great purposes, the security 
of their individual rights and the perfection of their individual hap 
piness ? Have not all men a consciousness of the same equal in 
terest in the achievements of invention, in the instructions of 
philosophy, and in the solaces of music and the arts? And do not 
these achievements, instructions, and solaces, exert everywhere the 
same influences, and produce the same emotions in the bosoms of all 
men? Since all languages are convertible into each other by cor 
respondence with the same agents, objects, actions, and emotions, 
have not all men practically one common language? Since the con 
stitutions and laws of all societies are only so many various defini 
tions of the rights and duties of men, as those rights and duties are 
learned from nature and revelation, have not all men practically one 
code of moral duty? Since the religious of men in their various 
climes are only so many different forms of their devotion toward a 
Supreme and Almighty Power entitled to their reverence and 
receiving it under the various names of Jehovah, Jove, and Lord, 
have not all men practically one religion ? Since all men are seek 
ing liberty and happiness for a season here, and to deserve and so 
to secure more perfect liberty and happiness somewhere in a future 
world, and since they all substantially agree that these temporal and 
spiritual objects are to be attained only through the knowledge of 
truth and the practice of virtue, have not mankind practically one 
common pursuit, through one common way, of one common and 
equal hope and destiny ? 

If there had been no such common humanity as I have insisted 
upon, then the American people would not have enjoyed the sym 
pathies of mankind when establishing institutions of civil and 
religious liberty here, nor would their establishment here have awak 
ened in the nations of Europe and of South America desires and 
hopes of similar institutions there. If there had been no such 
common humanity, then we should not, ever since the American 
Revolution, have seen human society throughout the world divided 
into two parties, the high and the low the one perpetually fore 

VOL. IV. 17 


boding and earnestly hoping the downfall, and the other as confidently 
predicting and as sincerely desiring the durability, of republican 
institutions. If there had been no such common humanity, then we 
should not have seen this tide of emigration from insular and con 
tinental Europe, flowing into our country through the channels of 
the St. Lawrence, the Hudson, and the Mississippi ebbing, how 
ever, always with the occasional rise of the hopes of freedom abroad, 
and always swelling again into greater volume wuen those prema 
ture hopes subside. If there were no such common humanity, then 
the peasantry and poor of Great Britain would not be perpetually 
appealing to us against the oppression of landlords on their farms 
and workmasters in their manufactories and mines ; and so, on the 
other hand, we should not be, as we are now, perpetually framing 
apologies to mankind for the continuance of African slavery among 
ourselves. If there were no such common humanity, then the fame 
of Wallace would have long ago died away in his native mountains, 
and the name even of Washington would at most have been only a 
household word in Virginia, and not, as it is now, a watchword of 
hope and progress throughout the world. 

If there had been no such common humanity, then when the 
civilization of Greece and Home had been consumed by the fires of 
human passion, the nations of modern Europe could never have 
gathered from among its ashes the philosophy, the arts, and the 
religion, which were imperishable, and have reconstructed with 
those materials that better civilization which, amid the conflicts and 
fall of political and ecclesiastical systems, has been constantly ad 
vancing toward perfection in every age. If there had been no such 
common humanity, then the dark and massive Egyptian obelisk 
would not have every where reappeared in the sepulchral architecture 
of our own times, and the light and graceful orders of Greece and 
Italy would not, as now, have been the models of our villas and our 
dwellings, nor would the simple and lofty arch and the delicate 
tracery of Gothic design have been, as it now is, everywhere con 
secrated to the service of religion. 

If tli ere had been no such common humanity, then would the sense 

of the obligation of the Decalogue have been confined to the despised 

nation who received it from Mount Sinai, and the prophecies of Jewish 

eers and the songs of Jewish bards would have perished forever 


with their temple, and never afterward could they have become, as 
they now are, the universal utterance of the spiritual emotions and 
hopes of mankind. If there had been no such common humanity, 
then certainly Europe and Africa and even new America would not, 
After the lapse of centuries, have recognised a common Kedeemer 
from all the sufferings and perils of human life in a culprit who had 
been ignorniniously executed in the obscure Eoman province of Judea; 
nor would Europe have ever gone up in arms to Palestine to wrest 
from the unbelieving Turk the tomb where that culprit had slept for 
only three days and nights after his descent from the cross; much 
less would his traditionary instructions, preserved by fishermen and 
publicans, have become the chief agency in the renovation of human 
society through after-coming ages. 

But although this philosophy is undeniably true, yet it would be 
a great error to believe that it has ever been, or is likely soon to be, 
universally accepted. Mankind accept philosophy just in proportion 
.as intellectual and moral cultivation enable them to look through 
proximate to ultimate consequences. While they are deficient in 
that cultivation, peace and order, essential to the very existence of 
society, are necessarily maintained by force. v/ (Those who employ that 
force seek to perpetuate their power, and they do this most effectually 
"by dividing classes and castes, races and nations, and arraying them 
for mutual injury or destruction against each other.; Despotism 
effects and perpetuates this division by unequal laws, subversive of 
those of reason and of God. Moreover, /a common instinct of fear 
combines the oppressors of all nations in a league against the ad 
vance of that political philosophy which comes to liberate mankind^ 
Those who inculcate this philosophy, therefore, necessarily encounter 
opposition and expose themselves to danger ; and insomuch as they 
labor from convictions of duty and motives of benevolence, with 
.such hazards of personal safety, their principles and characters are 
justly regarded as heroic. Adams, Hamilton, La Fayette, Knox, 
and Washington, although they were the champions of human na 
ture a cause dear to all men were saved from the revolutionary 
scaffold only by the success of their treason against a king whom 
the very necessities of society required to reign. Milton s "Defence 
of the People of England," which was in truth a promulgation of 
uhe same philosophy which we have been examining, was burned by 


the public executioner, and its immortal author only by good fortune 
escaped the same punishment. The American colonists derived this 
philosophy chiefly from the instructions of Locke, Sidney and Vane^, 
Locke fled into exile, arid Sidney and Vane perished as felons. 
Cicero, an earlier professor of the same philosophy, fell on the sword 
of a public assassin, and Socrates, who first inculcated it, drank the 
fatal hemlock, under a judicial sentence in the jail of Athens. 

Still this philosophy, although heroic, is by no means, therefore, 
to be regarded as unnecessary and visionary. The true heroic in 
human thought and conduct is only the useful in the higher regions 
of speculation and activity. If republicanism, or purely popular 
government, is the only form of political constitution which permits 
the development of liberty and equality, which are only other names 
for political justice, and if republicanism can only be established by 
the overthrow of despotism, then this philosophy is absolutely 
necessary to effect the freedom of mankind. All citizens of this 
republic agree with us thus far. But with many this is rather a 
speculation than a vital faith, and so they hesitate to allow full acti 
vity to the principles thus acknowledged, through fear of disturb 
ing the harmony of society and the peace of the world. Neverthe 
less, it is clear that the same philosophy which brings republican 
institutions into existence must be exclusively relied upon to defend 
and perpetuate them. A tree may indeed stand and grow and 
flourish for many seasons, although it is unsound at the heart; but 
just because it is so unsound, its leaves will ultimately wither, its 
branches will fall, and its trunk will decay. It is only the house 
that is built upon the rock that can surely and forever defy the tem 
pests and the waves. The founders of this republic knew this great 
truth right well, for they said: "If justice, good faith, honor, grati 
tude, and all the other qualities which ennoble a nation and fulfill the 
ends of government, shall be the fruits of our establishments, then 
the cause of liberty will acquire a dignity and a lustre which it has 
never yet enjoyed, and an example will be set which cannot but 
have the most favorable influence on mankind. If, on the other 
side, our governments should be unfortunately blotted with the re 
verse of these cardinal virtues, then the great cause which we have 
engaged to vindicate will be dishonored and betrayed. The last and 
fairest experiment of human nature will be turned against them, and 


their patrons and friends will be silenced by the insults of the votaries 
of tyranny and oppression." 

The example of Rome is often commended to us for our emula 
tion. Let us consider it then with becoming care. Rome had indeed 
forms of religion and morals, a show of philosophy and the arts, but 
in none of these was there more than the faintest recognition of a 
universal humanity. Her predecessor, Greece, had, in a brilliant but 
brief and precocious career, invented the worship of nature, or, in 
other words, the worship of deities, which were only names given 
to the discovered forces of nature. This religion did not indeed 
exalt the human mind to a just conception of the Divine, but, on the 
other hand, it did not altogether consign it to the sphere of sensual 
ity. Rome unfortunately rejected even this poor religion, because it 
was foreign and because it was too spiritual ; and in its stead she es 
tablished one which practically was the worship of the state itself. 
The senate elected gods for Rome, and these were expected to re 
ward that distinguished partiality by showing peculiar and discrimi 
nating favor to the people of Rome, and the same political authority 
appointed creed, precepts, ritual and priesthood. Does it need 
amplification to show what the character of the creed, the precepts, 
the ritual and the priesthood, thus established, necessarily were? 
All were equally licentious and corrupt. 

As was the religion, so of course were the morals of Rome. Am- 
"bition was the sole motive of the state. At first every town in Italy, 
and afterwards every nation, however remote, was regarded as an 
enemy to be conquered, riot in retaliation for any injuries received, 
nor even for the purpose of amending its barbarous institutions and 
laws, but to be despoiled and enslaved, that Rome might be rich and 
might occupy the world alone. Fraud, duplicity and treachery 
might be practised against the foreigner, and every form of cruelty 
might be inflicted upon the captive who had resisted in self-defense 
or in defense of his county. Military valor not only became the 
highest of virtues but exclusively usurped the name of virtue. The 
act of parricide was the highest of crimes, not however because of 
its gross inhumanity, but because by a legal fiction the father was a 
sacred type of the Roman state. The sway of Rome, as it spread 
over the world as then known, nevertheless gravitated toward the 

1 Address of the Continental Congress, 1789. 


city and centred in the order of Patricians. The Plebeians were 
degraded and despised because their ancestors were immigrants. 
Below the Plebeians there was yet a lower order, consisting of pris- 
oners-of-war and their offspring, always numerous enough to endanger 
the safety of the state. These were slaves, and the code of domestic 
servitude established for the captured Africans and their descendants 
in some parts of our own country is a meliorated edition of that 
which Kome maintained for the government of slaves as various in 
nation, language and religion, as the enemies she conquered. These 
orders, mutally hostile and aggressive, were kept asunder by dis 
criminating laws and carefully-cherished prejudices. The Patricians 
divided the public domain among themselves, although Plebeian 
blood was shed as profusely as their own in acquiring it. The Pa 
tricians alone administered justice, and they even kept the forms of 
its administration a profound mj^stery sealed against the knowledge 
of those for whose safety and welfare the laws existed. The Plebe 
ian could approach the courts only as a client in the footsteps of a 
Patrician patron.; and for his aid in obtaining that justice, which of 
course was an absolute debt of the state, the Patrician was entitled 
to the support of his client in every enterprise of personal interest 
and ambition. Thus did Rome, while enslaving the world, blindly 
prepare the machinery for her own overthow by the agency of do 
mestic factions. Industry in Rome was dishonored. The Plebeians 
labored with the slaves. Patricians scorned all employments but 
that of agriculture and the service of the state. And so Rome re 
jected commerce and the arts. The person of the Patrician was 
inviolable, while the Plebeian forfeited liberty and for a long period 
even life by the failure to pay debts which his very necessities 
obliged him to contract. The slaves held their lives by the tenure 
of their masters forbearance, and what that forbearance was we learn 
from the fact that they arrayed the slaves against each other, when 
trained as gladiators, in mortal combat for the gratification of their 
own pride and the amusement of the people. Punishments were 
graduated, not by the inherent turpitude of the crimes committed, 
nor by the injury or danger resulting from them to the state, but by 
the rank of the offender. What was that Roman liberty of which, in 
such general and captivating descriptions, we read so much ? The 
Patrician enjoyed a licentious freedom, the Plebeian an uncertain 


and humiliating one. extorted from the higher order by perpetual 
practices of sedition. According to the modern understanding of 
popular rights and character, there was no people in Kome. So at 
least we learn from Cicero: " Non est enim consilium in vulgo. Non 
ratio, non discrimen, non diligentia. Semperque sapienter ea quoe pop- 
ulusferenda non laudanda" 

The domestic affections were stifled in that wild society. The 
wife was a slave and might be beaten, transferred to another lord, or 
divorced at pleasure. The father slew his children whenever their 
care and support became irksome, and the state approved the act. 
In such a society the rich and great of course grew always richer 
and greater, and the poor and low always poorer and more debased ; 
and yet throughout all her long career did Rome never establish one 
public charity, nor has history preserved any memorable instances 
of private benevolence. Such was the life of Rome under her kings 
and consuls. She attained the end of her ambition, and became, 
as her historian truly boasts, " Populus Romanus victor dominusque 
omnium gentium. 1 1 But at the same time the city trembled always 
at the very breathing of popular discontent, and every citizen and 
even the senate, generals and consuls, were every hour the slaves of 
superstitious fears of the withdrawal of the favor of the gods. The 
people, sighing for milder and more genial laws, after the lapse of 
many centuries, recovered the lost code which the good king Numa 
had received from the goddess Egeria. Do we wonder that the sen 
ate interdicted its publication, lest it might produce agitation dan 
gerous to the public peace ? Or can we be surprised when we read 
that Cicero, whose philosophy was only less than divine, when he 
found that the republic was actually falling into ruins, implored his 
new academy to be silent? 

You know well the prolonged but fearful catastrophe, the civil and 
the servile wars, the dictatorship, the usurpation, the empire, the 
military despotism, the insurrections in the provinces, the invasion 
by barbarians, the division and the dismemberment and the fall of 
the state, the extinction of the Roman name, language and laws, and 
the destruction of society, and even civilization itself, not only in 
Italy, but throughout the world, and the consequent darkness which, 
overshadowed the earth throughout seven centuries. Tins is the 


moral of a state whose material life is stimulated and perfected, while 
its spiritual life is neglected and extinguished. 

And now it is seen that the future which we ought to desire for 
our country involves besides merely physical prosperity and aggran 
dizement, corresponding intellectual development and advancement 
in virtue also. JzLasj^ur spiritual lifejiitbertoimprovedj^qually with 
our material growth/ 

It is not easy to answer the question. We were at first a small 
and nearly a homogeneous people. We are now eight times more 
numerous, and we have incorporated large and various foreign ele 
ments in our society. We were originally a rural and agricultural 
people. Now one-seventh of our population is found in manufactur 
ing towns and commercial cities. We then were poor, and lived in 
constant apprehension of domestic disorder and of foreign danger, 
and we were at the same time distrustful of the capacity and stability 
of our novel institutions. We are now relatively rich, and all those 
doubts and fears have vanished. We must make allowance for this , 
great change of circumstances, and we must remember also that it is 
the character of the great mass of society now existing that is to be 

\compared with, not the heroic models of the revolutionary age, but 
with society at large as it then existed. 

It is certain that society has not declined. Religion has, indeed, 
lost some of its ancient austerity, but, waiving the question whether 
asceticism is a just test of religion, we may safely say that the change 
which has occurred is only a compromise with foreign elements of 
religion ; for who will deny that those elements are purer and more 
spiritual here than the systems existing abroad from which they have 
been derived ? Nor can it be denied that, while the ecclesiastical 
systems existing among us have been, with even more than our rigor 
ous early jealousy, kept distinct and separate from the political con 
duct of the state, religious institutions have been multiplied relatively 
with the advance of settlement and population, and are everywhere 
well and effectually sustained. At the era of independence we had 
little intellectual reputation, except what a bold and successful meta 
physician and a vigorous explorer in natural philosophy had won for 
us. We have now, I think, a recognized and respectable rank in the 
republic of letters. It is true, indeed, that we have produced few 
great works in speculative science and polite literature ; but those 


are not the departments which, during the last half century, have 
chiefly engaged the human mind. A long season of political reform 
and recovery from exhausting wars has necessarily required intel 
lectual activity in reducing into use the discoveries before made ; and 
we may justly claim that, in applying the elements of science to the 
improvement and advancement of agriculture, art, and commerce, 
we have not been surpassed. 

I do not seek to disguise from myself, nor from you, the existence 
of a growing passion for territorial aggrandizement, which often 
exhibits a gross disregard of justice and humanity. Nevertheless, I 
am not one of those who think that the temper of the nation has 
become already unsettled. Accidents favoring the indulgence of 
that passion, have been met with a degree of self-denial that no other 
nation ever practised. Aggrandizement has been incidental, while 
society has, nevertheless, bestowed its chief care on developments of 
natural resources, reforms of political constitutions, melioration of 
codes, the diffusion of knowledge, and the cultivation of virtue. If 
this benign policy has been chiefly exercised within the domain of state 
authority, and has not reached our federal system, the explanation is 
obvious in the facts that the popular will is, by virtue of the federal 
constitution, slower in reaching that system, and that we inherited 
fears which seemed patriotic, of the danger of severance of the Union, 
to result from innovation. If we have not, in the federal govern 
ment, forsaken, as widely as we ought to have done, systems of 
administration borrowed from countries where liberty was either 
unknown or was greatly abridged, and so have maintained armies, 
and navies, and diplomacy, on a scale of unnecessary grandeur and 
ostentation, it can hardly be contended that they have, in any great 
degree, corrupted the public virtue. Inquiry is now more active 
than it has heretofore been, and it may not be doubted that the fede 
ral action will hereafter, though with such moderation as will produce 
no danger and justify no alarm, be made to conform to the senti 
ments of prudence, enterprise, justice, and humanity, which prevail 
among the people. 

Looking through the states which formed the confederacy in its 
beginning, we find, as general facts, that public order has been effect 
ually maintained, public faith has been preserved, and public tran 
quillity has been undisturbed, that justice has everywhere been regu- 

VOL. IV. 18 


larly administered, and generally with impartiality. We have 
established a system of education, which, it is true, is surpassed by 
many European institutions in regard to the instruction afforded, but 
which, nevertheless, is far more equal and universal in regard to the 
masses which are educated ; and we are beginning to see that system 
adapted equally to the education of both sexes, and of all races, 
which is a feature altogether new even in modern civilization, and 
promises the most auspicious results to the cause of liberty and vir 
tue. Our literature half a century ago was altogether ephemeral r 
and scarcely formed an element of moral or political influence. It 
is now marked with our own national principles and sentiments, and 
exerts every day an increasing influence on the national mind. The 
journalist press, originally a feeble institution, often engaged in excit 
ing the passions and alarming the fears of society, and dividing it 
into uncompromising and unforgiving factions, has been constantly 
assuming a higher tone of morality and more patriotic and humane 
principles of action. There are, indeed, gross abuses of the power 
of suffrage, but still our popular elections, on the whole, express the 
will of the people, and are even less influenced by authority, preju 
dice and passion, than heretofore. Slavery, an institution that was 
at first quite universal, has now come to be acknowledged as a pecu 
liar one, existing in only a portion of the states. And if, as I doubt 
not, you, like myself, are impatient of its continuance, then you will 
nevertheless find ground for much satisfaction in the fact that the 
foreign slave trade has been already, by unanimous consent of all 
the states, condemned and repudiated ; that manumission has been 
effected in half of the states; and that, notwithstanding the great 
political influence which the institution has been able to organize, 
a healthful, constant, and growing public sentiment, nourished by the 
suggestions of sound economy and the instincts of justice and huma 
nity, is leading the way with marked advance toward a complete and 
universal, though just and peaceful emancipation. 

It must be borne in mind, now, that all this moral and social im 
provement has been effected, not by the exercise of any authority 
over the people, but by the people themselves, acting with freedom 
from all except self-imposed restraints. 

Of the new states, it is happily true that they have, almost with 
out exception, voluntarily organized their governments according to 


the most perfect models furnished by the elder members of the con 
federacy, and that they have uniformly maintained law, order, and 
faith, while they have, with wonderful forecast, been even more 
munificent than the elder states in laying broad foundations of liberty 
and virtue. On the whole, we think that we may claim that, under 
the republican system established here, the people have governed 
themselves safely and wisely, and have enjoyed a greater amount of 
prosperity and happiness than, under any form of constitution, was 
ever before or elsewhere vouchsafed to any portion of mankind. 

Nevertheless, this review proves only that the measure of know 
ledge and virtue we possess is equal to the exigency of the republic 
under the circumstances in which it was organized. Those circum 
stances are passing away, and we are entering a career of wealth,, 
power, and expansion. In that career, it is manifest that we shall 
need higher intellectual attainments and greater virtue as a nation 
than we have hitherto possessed, or else there is no adaptation of 
means to ends in the scheme of the Divine government. Nay, we 
shall need, in this new emergency, intellect and virtue surpassing 
those of the honored founders of the republic. I am aware that this 
proposition will seem to you equally unreasonable and irreverent. 
Nevertheless, you will, on a moment s reflection, admit its truth. 
Did the invention of the nation stop with the discoveries of Fulton 
and Franklin ? On the contrary, those philosophers, if they could 
now revisit the earth, would bow to the genius which has perfected 
the steam engine and the telegraph with a homage as profound as 
that with which we honor their own great memories. So I think 
Jefferson, and even Washington, under the same circumstances, in 
stead of accusing us of degeneracy, would be lost in admiration of 
the extent and perfection to which we have safely carried in practice 
the theory of self-government which they established amid so much 
uncertainty, and bequeathed to us with so much distrust. Shall we 
acquit ourselves of obligation if we rest content with either the 
achievements, the intelligence, or the virtue of our ancestors? If so, 
then the prospect of mankind is hopeless indeed, for then it must be 
true that not only is there an impassable stage of social perfection, 
but that we have reached it, and that henceforth, not only we, but 
all mankind, must recede from it, and civilization must everywhere 
decline. Such a hypothesis does violence to every power of the 


human mind, and every hope of the human heart. Moreover, these 
energies and aspirations are the forces of a divine nature within us, 
and to admit that they can be stifled and suppressed, is to contradict 
the manifest purposes of human existence. Yet it will be quite 
absurd to claim that we are fulfilling these purposes, if we shall fail 
to produce hereafter bunt-factors of our race equal to Fulton, and 
Franklin, and Adams, arid even Washington. Let us hold these 
honored characters indeed as models, but not of unapproachable 
perfection. Let us, on the contrary, weigh and fully understand our 
great responsibilities. It is well that we can rejoice in the renown 
of a Cooper, an Irving, and a Bancroft ; but we have yet to give 
birth to a Shakspeare, a Milton, and a Bacon. The fame of Patrick 
Henry and John Adams may suffice for the past ; but the world will 
yet demand of us a Burke and a Demosthenes. We may repose for 
the present upon the fame of Morse and Fulton and Franklin ; but 
human society is entitled to look to us, ere long, for a Des Cartes and 
a Newton. If we disappoint these expectations, and acknowledge 
ourselves unequal to them, then how shall it be made to appear that 
freedom is better than slavery, and republicanism more conducive to 
the welfare of mankind than despotism ? To cherish aspirations hum 
bler than these, is equally to shrink from our responsibilities and to 
dishonor the memory of the ancestors we so justly revere. 

And now I am sure that your hearts will sink into some depth of 
despondency wheiwLask whether American society now exhibits the 
JTJ]iipno,gs^of these higher but necessary aspirations? I think that 
everywhere there is confessed a decline from the bold and stern vir 
tue which, at some previous time, was inculcated and practised in 
executive councils and in representative chambers. I think that we 
all are conscious that recently we have met questions of momentous 
responsibility, in the organization of governments over our newly 
acquired territories, and appeals to our sympathy and aid for op 
pressed nations abroad, in a spirit of timidity and of compromise. 
I think that we all are conscious of having abandoned something of 
our high morality, in suffering important posts of public service, at 
home and abroad, to fall sometimes into the hands of mercenary men, 
destitute of true republican spirit, and of generous aspirations to 
promote the welfare of our country and of mankind: 
Souls that no hope of future praise inflame, 
Cold and insensible to glorious fume." 


I think that we are accustomed to excuse the national demoraliza 
tion which has produced these results, on the ground that the prac 
tice of a sterner virtue might have disturbed the harmony of society, 
and endangered the safety of that fabric of union on which all our 
hopes depend. In this, we forget that a nation must always recede 
if it be not actually advancing ; that, as hope is the element of pro 
gress, so fear, admitted into public counsels, betrays like treason. 

But there is, nevertheless, no sufficient reason for the distrust of 
the national virtue. Moral forces are, like material forces, subject to- 
conflict and reaction. It is only through successive reactions that 
knowledge and virtue advance. The great conservative and restora 
tive forces of society still remain, and are acquiring, all the while r 
even greater vigor than they have ever heretofore exercised. Whether 
I am right or not in this opinion, all will agree that an increase of 
popular intelligence and a renewal of public virtue are necessary. 
This is saying nothing new, for it is a maxim of political science that 
all nations must continually advance in knowledge and renew their 
constitutional virtues, or must perish. I am sure that we shall do 
this, because I am sure that our great capacity for advancing the 
welfare of mankind has not yet been exhausted, and that the promi 
ses we have given to the cause of humanity will not be suffered to- 
fail by Him who overrules all human events to the promotion of that 

But where is the agency that is to work out these so necessary 
results ? Shall we look to the press? Tes, we may ho"pe much from 
the press, for it is free. It can safely inculcate truth and expose 
prejudice, error, and injustice. The press, moreover, is strong in its 
perfect mechanism, and it reaches every mind throughout this vast 
and ever- widening confederacy. But the press must have editors- 
and authors men possessing talents, education, and virtue, and so- 
qualified to instruct, enlighten, and guide the people. 

Shall we look to the sacred desk ? Yes, indeed ; for it is of divine 
institution, and is approved by human experience. The ministers- 
of Christ, inculcating divine morals, under divine authority, with 
divine sanctions, and sustained and aided by special cooperating 
influences of the Divine Spirit, are now carrying farther and broadly 
onward the great work of the renewal of the civilization of the world, 
and its emancipation from superstition and despotism. But the desk, 


also, must have ministers men possessing talents, education, and 
virtue, and so qualified to enlighten, instruct, and guide mankind. 

But however well the press, the desk, and the popular tribune, 
may be qualified to instruct and elevate the people, their success and 
consequently their influence must after all depend largely on the 
measure of intelligence and virtue possessed by the people when 
sufficiently matured to receive their instructions. Editors, authors, 
ministers, statesmen, and people, all are qualified for their respective 
posts of duty in the institutions of popular education, and the stand 
ard of these is established by that which is recognized among us by 
the various names of the academy, the college, and the university. 
We see, then, that the university holds a chief place among the 
institutions of the American Republic. 

I may not attempt to specify at large what the university ought to 
teach or how it ought to impart its instructions. That has been con 
fided to abler and more practical hands. But I may venture to insist 
on the necessity of having the standard of moral duty maintained at 
its just height by the university. That institution must be rich and 
full in the knowledge of the sciences which it imparts, but this is 
not of itself enough. It must imbue the national mind with correct 
convictions of the greatness and excellence to which it ought to 
aspire. To do this it must accustom Jhe public mind to look beyond 
the mere temporary consequences of actions and events to their ulti 
mate influence on the direction of the republic and on the progress 
of mankind. So it will enable men to decide between prejudice and 
reason, expediency and duty, the demagogue and the statesman, the 
bigot and the Christian. 

The standard which the university shall establish must correspond 
to the principles of eternal truth and equal justice. The university 
must be conservative. It must hold fast every just principle of 
moral and political science that the experience of mankind has ap 
proved, but it must also be bold, remembering that in every human 
system there are always political superstitions upholding physical 
slavery in some of its modes, as there are always religious supersti 
tions upholding intellectual slavery in some of its forms; that all 
these superstitions stand upon prescriptions, and that they can only 
be exploded where opinion is left free, and reason is ever active and 
vigorous. But the university must nevertheless practice and teach 


moderation and charity even to error, remembering that involuntary 
error will necessarily be mingled also even with its own best instruc 
tions, that unbridled zeal overreaches and defeats itself, and that he 
who would conquer in moral discussion, like him who would prevail 
in athletic games, must be temperate in all things. 

Reverend Instructors and Benevolent Founders, this new institu 
tion, by reason of its location in the centre of Ohio, itself a central 
one among these thirty-one united communities, must exert an influ 
ence that can scarcely be conceived, now, upon the welfare and fame 
of our common country. Devote it then, I pray you, to no mere 
partisan or sectarian objects. Remember that the patriot and the 
Christian is a partisan or a sectarian, only because the constitution 
of society allows him no other mode of efficient and beneficent acti 
vity. Let "Capitol University" be dedicated not to the interests of 
the beautiful city which it adorns, nor even to the interests of the 
great and prosperous state whose patronage I hope it will largely 
enjoy, nor even to the republic of which I trust it is destined to 
become a tower of strength and support. On the contrary, if you 
would make it promote most effectually all these precious interests, 
de dicate it, I enjoin upon you, as our forefathers dedicated all the 
institutions which they established, to the cause of Human Nature. 


FELLOW CITIZENS : I do not know how lightly you, who are hur 
ried so fast through the ever-changing panorama of metropolitan life T 
may regard the quiet scenes of this unpretending festival, appointed 
and arranged with so much care by the American Institute ; but 
I confess for myself, that, coming from a distant and rural home, and 
so being never more than an occasional spectator here, I find always 
the same first freshness, in these autumnal shows of flowers, and 
fruits, and animals of subsistence, fleece and burden, trained and 
perfected by hard yet gentle hands ; and that these annual trials of 
the skill of emulous, yet unambitious men and women, in the use 
of the spade and the plow, the forge and the furnace, the dairy a,nd 
the needle, the spindle and the loom, innocent in their nature, yet 
beneficent in their effect, by stimulating invention and enterprise, 
while they faithfully mark, as years roll on, the progress which our 
country is making in arts and civilization, never fail to excite within 
me sympathies and emotions more profound and pleasing than any 
state pageant which I have witnessed at home, or the most imposing 
demonstration of military power that can be seen in any other and 
less favored land. 

^ Society divides concerning that progress. Those who are occupied 
with their own personal cares, and apprehensive of evil in every 
change, look upon it with indifference or distrust ; others, knowing 
that in a republic, constituted as this is, there exists always a restless 
activity toward either peace or war, virtue or vice, greatness or shame r 
devote themselves to the duty of regulating that activity, and giving 
it a right direction. 

^ The members of the American Institute are of this class. Having 
constantly sympathized with them heretofore, when their unremitted 
labors secured neither rewards nor favor, I rejoice in meeting them 
now, under more propitious circumstances. I congratulate you r 

i An Address before the American Institute, New York, October 20, 1853. 


Messrs. Reese, Livingston and Hall, Stillman, Meigs and Chandler, 
and others, associates, that your institution has been adopted as a 
model by many towns, and by all the counties in this state, by the 
state itself, and by many other states ; and that your instructions and 
example, patiently continued through so many years, have at last 
induced the nation itself to consent to appear, and to win some sig 
nificant trophies, in the Exhibition of Universal Industry, already 
held in London, and to inaugurate another and brilliant one in the 
world s new capital, which we are founding on this yet rude coast 
of a recently impassable ocean. 

Nevertheless, I have been for many reasons habitually averse from 
mingling in the sometimes excited debates which crowd upon each 
other in a great city. There was, however, an authority which I 
could not disobey, in the venerable name and almost paternal kind 
ness of the eminent citizen, who so recently presided here with dig 
nity and serenity all his own ; and who transmitted to me the invita 
tion of the Institute, and persuaded its acceptance ! 

How sudden his death ! Only three weeks ago the morning mail 
brought to me his announcement of his arrival to arrange this exhi 
bition, and his summons to me to join him here; and the evening 
dispatch, on the self-same day, bore the painful intelligence that the 
lofty genius which had communed with kindred spirits so long, on 
the interests of his country, had departed from the earth, and that 
the majestic form which had been animated by it, had disappeared 
forever from among living men. 

I had disciplined myself when coming here, so as to purpose to 
speak no word for the cause of human freedom, lest what might seem 
too persistent an advocacy might offend. But must I, therefore, 
abridge of its just proportions the eulogiurn which the occasion and 
the character of the honored dead alike demand ? 

The first ballot which I cast for the chief magistracy of my native 
and most beloved state, bore the name of James Tallmadge as the 
alternate of De Witt Clinton. If I have never faltered in pursuing 
the policy of that immortal statesman, through loud reproach and 
vindictive opposition during his life, and amid clamors and conten 
tions, often amounting almost to faction, since his death, I have found 
as little occasion to hesitate or waver in adhering to the counsels and 
example of the illustrious compeer who, after surviving him so many 
years, has now been removed, in ripened age, to the companionship 

VOL. IV. 19 


of the just. How does not time vindicate fidelity to truth and to 
our country ! A vote for Clinton and Tallmadge in 1824, what cen 
sures did it not bring then? Who will impeach that ballot now? 

A statesman s claim to the gratitude of his country rests on what 
were, or what would have been, the results of the policy he has 
recommended. If the counsels of James Tallmadge had completely 
prevailed, then not only would American forests, mines, soil, inven 
tion and industry have rendered our country, now and forever, inde 
pendent of all other nations, except for what climate forbids ; but 
then, also, no menial hand would ever have guided a plow, and no 
footstep of a slave would ever have been tracked on the soil of all 
that vast part of our national domain that stretches away from the 
banks of the Mississippi to the far western ocean. 

This was the policy of James Tallmadge. It was worthy of New 
York, in whose name it was promulgated. It would have been 
noble, even to have altogether failed in establishing it. He was suc 
cessful, however, in part through only through unwise delays and 
unnecessary compromises, which he strenuously opposed, and which, 
therefore, have not impaired his just fame. And so in the end, 
he, more nearly than any other citizen of our time, realized the de 
scription of the happiest man in the world, given to the frivolous 
Croesus by the great Athenian : "He saw his offspring, and they all 
survived him. At the close of an honorable and prosperous life, on 
the field of civic victory, he was rewarded with the honors of a pub 
lic funeral by the state that he had enriched, adorned, and enlarged." 

Gentlemen of the American Institute, Dr. Johnson truly said, that 
the first man who balanced a straw on his nose ; the first man who 
rode three horses at a time ; in short, all such men deserved the ap 
plause of mankind, on account, not of the use of what they did, but 
of the dexterity which they exhibited ; for that everything which 
enlarged the sphere of human powers, and showed man that he could 
do what he thought he could not do, was valuable. I apprehend 
that this is a true exposition of the philosophy of your own most 
useful labors. 

The increase of personal power and skill diminishes individual 
dependence; and individual independence, when it pervades the 
whole state, is national independence. It is only when, through such 
individuality of its members, a nation attains a certain independence, 
that it passes from that condition of society in which it thinks, moves, 


and acts, whether for peace or for war, for right or for wrong, accord 
ing to the interests or caprices of one, or of a few persons (a condi 
tion which defines monarchy, or aristocracy), to that better condition 
in which it thinks, moves, and acts, in all things, under the direction cf 
one common interest, ascertained and determined by the intelligent 
consent of a majority, or all of its members ; which condition con 
stitutes a republic, or democracy. So democracy, wherever it exists, 
is more or less perfect, and, of course, more or less safe and strong, 
according to the tone of individuality maintained by its citizens. 

Of all men, and of all nations, it seems to rne that Americans, and 
this republic, have, at once the least excuse for a want of indepen 
dence, and the most need for assuming and maintaining it. 

No other nation has equal elements of society arid of empire. 
Charlemagne, when founding his kingdom, saw, or might have seen, 
that, while it was confined by the ocean and by the Mediterranean 
on the west and on the south, it was equally shut in northerly and 
eastwardly by river and mountain barriers, which would be success 
fully maintained forever, by races as vigorous and as independent as 
the Franks themselves. Alfred the Great saw so clearly how his 
country was circumscribed by the seas, that he never once thought 
of continental empire. The future careers of France and England 
may, like the past, be filled up with spasmodic efforts to enlarge fixed 
dominions by military conquests and agricultural and commercial 
colonies; but all such attempts, even if they should be as gigantic 
as those which have heretofore been made, will, like them, be followed 
by disastrous reactions, bringing the nations back again, and confin 
ing them at last within their natural and earliest borders. No politi 
cal system can be held together permanently by force, suspending or 
overpowering the laws of political affinity and gravitation. Unlike 
those nations, we are a homogeneous people, occupying a compact 
and indivisible domain, peculiarly adapted to internal commerce, 
seventeen times greater than that of France, and an hundred times 
more extended than that of Great Britain. While it spreads east 
ward and westward across the continent, nature has not interposed, 
nor has man erected, nor can he raise, a barrier on the north or on 
the south, that can prevent any expansion that shall be found neces 
sary, provided only that our efforts to effect it shall be, as they ought 
to be, wise, peaceful, and magnanimous. Only Russia excels us in 
territorial greatness. But while all of her vast population are not 



merely willing, but even superstitious subjects, of an unmitigated 
despotism, more than four-fifths of them are predial slaves. If such 
a population could, within any short period, rise up to a state of 
comparative social elevation, such a change would immediately lead 
to seditions that must inevitably result in dismemberment of the 

Why should we go abroad for mineral materials, or for metallic 
treasures, since this broad domain of ours is, even more plentifully 
than any equal portion of the earth, stored with marl, gypsum, salt, 
coal, quicksilver, lead, copper, iron, and gold ? Where shall we find 
quarries and forests, producing more amply the materials for archi 
tecture, whether for the purposes of peace, or of war on land or on 
sea? Our cities may be built of our own freestone, marble and gra 
nite ; and our southern coasts are fringed with pine and live-oak, 
while timber and lumber, diversified and exhaustless, crown our 
northern mountains and plains. 

Why should we resort to other soils and climates for supplies of 
subsistence, if we except spices, dyes, and some not indispensable 
tropical fruits, since we have sugar, rice and cotton fields stretching 
along the shore of the gulf, long mountain ranges, such as those of 
Virginia and Vermont, declivities in which the vine delights, along 
the banks of the Ohio, and the endless prairies, fertile in all cereal 
grains, tobacco, flax and hemp, that border the lakes and the Mis 
sissippi, and their widely-branching and far-reaching inlets and tribu 
taries ? 

If there is virtue in blood, what nation traces its lineage to purer 
and gentler stocks? And what nation increases in numbers, by 
either immigration or by native births, more rapidly ? And what 
nation, moreover, has risen in intelligence equally or so fast ? 

If it be asked whether we have spirit and vigor proportioned to 
our natural resources, I answer, look at these thirteen original states. 
Their vigor is not only unimpaired, but it is increasing. Then look 
at the eighteen others, offshoots of those stocks. They are even more 
elastic and thrifty. Consider how small and how recently planted 
were the germs of all this political luxuriance, and to what early 
hardships and neglect they were exposed. Can we not reasonably 
look for a maturity full of strength and majesty? 

Moreover, the circumstances of the age are propitious to us. The 
nations on this comment are new, youthful and fraternal, while those 


existing on the other are either lying in hopeless debasement or are 
preparing to undergo the convulsions of an indispensable regenera 
tion. What power, then, need we fear? What power, if we were 
in danger, could yield us protection, or even aid ? 

While our constitutions and laws establish political equality, they 
operate to produce social equality also, by preventing monopolies of 
land and great accumulation of wealth ; and so they afford incentives 
to universal activity and emulation. Why, then, should not the 
American citizen and the American republic be consciously indepen 
dent in all things, as in all things they are safe and free? 

Such independence should be attained and preserved, not by a few 
only, but, as far as possible, by all citizens. It is not less essential 
that the farmer, the mechanic, and the laborer shall enjoy it, than 
that it shall regulate the action of the merchant, the lawyer, and the 
statesman. Every member of the state may become a soldier, and 
even a senator. He can never be less than an elector. What does 
not the republic owe to Sherman and Franklin ? Yet they were 
mechanics. What would not have been its fate but for the indepen 
dence of the captors of Andre? Yet, Paulding, Williams, and Van 
Wart were mere laboring men. 

Virtue is confessedly the vital principle of the republic ; but virtue 
cannot exist without courage, which is only the consciousness of in 

We are bound to recommend republican institutions to the accep 
tance of other nations. Can we do so, if we are content to be no 
wiser, no more virtuous, no more useful to humanity, than those to 
whom such institutions are denied? Eesponsibility is always in 
proportion to the talent enjoyed. Neither man nor nation can be 
wise or really virtuous, or useful, when dependent on the caprice or 
even on the favor of another. Is there one among the tens of thou 
sands of inventions in the patent office that was made by a slave, or 
even by one whose blood had been recently attainted by slavery ? 
Peter the Great, master of so many millions of slaves, resorted to 
the shop of a free mechanic of Saardam to learn the mystery of ship 
building. His successor, Nicholas, employs Whistler, a Massachu 
setts engineer, to project his railroads; Eoss Winans, a Baltimore 
mechanic, to construct his locomotives; and Orsamus Eaton, a car 
riage-maker of Troy, to construct his cars. Do you wonder_tha 


loving freedom for such fruits, I also have set my face firmly 
against slavery? 

If we act hereafter as we have acted hitherto, we shall be continu 
ally changing old things, old laws, old customs and even old consti 
tutions, for new ones. Does any one doubt this? Have we not 
already a third constitution in this state? Has any one of the states 
a constitution older than twenty -five years ? But political progress, 
if not regulated with moderation, may move too fast; and if not 
wisely guided will lead to ruin. It is the people themselves, and not 
any power above or aside from them, that alone must regulate and 
direct that progress. Be they never so honest, they cannot discharge 
so great a political trust wisely, except they act on such generous 
impulses, and with such lofty purposes, as only bold and independent 
men can conceive. The people must be independent, or this repub 
lic, like the republics that have gone before it, must be ruled and 
ruined by demagogues. 

I am far from supposing that we are signally deficient in indepen 
dence. I know that it is a national, a hereditary and a popular 
sentiment ; that we annually celebrate, and always glory in our in 
dependence. We do so justly, for nowhere else does even a form 
shadow of popular independence exist ; while here it is the very 
rock on which our institutions rest. Nevertheless, occasions for the 
exercise of this virtue may be neglected. 

We hold in contempt, equally just and profound, him who im 
poses, and him who wears a menial livery ; and yet, I think, that 
we are accustomed to regard with no great severity, the employer 
who exacts, or the mechanic, clerk or laborer, who yields political 
conformity in consideration of wages. We insist, as we ought, that 
every citizen in the state shall be qualified by education for citizen 
ship ; but we are by no means unanimous that one citizen, or class 
of citizens, shall not prescribe its own creed, in the instruction of the 
children of others. We construct and remodel partizan formulas 
and platforms with changing circumstances, with almost as much 
diligence and versatility as the Mexicans; and we attempt to enforce 
conformity to them, with scarcely less of zeal and intolerance, not 
indeed by the sword, but by the greater terror of political proscrip 
tion. We resist argument, not always with argument, but often with 
personal denunciation, and sometimes even with combined violence. 
We differ, indeed, as to the particular errors of political faith, that 


shall be corrected by this extreme remedy ; but, nevertheless, the 
number of those who altogether deny its necessity and suitableness 
in some cases, is very small. 

We justly maintain that a free press is the palladium of liberty; 
and yet, mutually proscribing all editorial independence that is mani 
fested by opposition to our own opinions, we have only attained a 
press that is free in the sense that every interest, party, faction, or 
sect, can have its own independent organ. If it be still maintained, 
notwithstanding these illustrations to the contrary, that entire social 
independence prevails, then, I ask, why is it so necessary to preserve 
with jealousy, as we justly do, the ballot, in lieu of open suffrage; for 
if every citizen is really free from all fear and danger, why should he 
mask his vote more than his face. Believe me, fellow citizens, inde 
pendence always languishes in the very degree that intolerance pre 
vails. We smile at the vanity of the factory girl of Lowell, who, 
having spent the secular part of the week in making calicoes for the 
use of her unsophisticated countrywomen, disdainfully arrays herself 
on Sundays exclusively in the tints of European dyes ; and yet, we 
are indifferent to the fact that besides a universal consumption of 
foreign silks, excluding the silkworm from our country, we purchase, 
in England alone, one hundred and fifty millions of yards of the 
same stained muslins. We sustain, here and there, a rickety, or at 
best a contracted iron manufactory ; while we import iron to make 
railroads over our own endless ore fields, and we carry our prejudices \ // 
against our struggling manufacturers and mechanics so far as to 
fastidiously avoid wearing on our persons, or using on our tables, or 
displaying in our drawing-rooms, any fabric, of whatsoever material, 
texture or color, that, in the course of its manufacture, has, to our 
best knowledge and belief, ever come in contact with the honest han< 
of an American citizen. In all this, we are less in dependent thm 
the Englishman, the Frenchman, or even the Siberian. 

It is painful to confess the same infirmity in regard to intellectual . L^~ 
productions^ We despise, deeply and universally, the spoiled child 
of pretension, who, going abroad for education or observation, with 
a mind destitute of the philosophy of travel, returns to us with an 
affected tone and gait, sure indications of a craven spirit and a dis 
loyal heart. And yet how intently do we not watch to see whether 
one of our countrymen obtains in Europe the honor of an aristo 
cratic dinner, or of a presentation, in a grotesque costume, at court! 


How do we not suspend our judgment on the merits of the native 
artist, be he dancer, singer, actor, limner, or sculptor, and even of 
the native author, inventor, orator, bishop or statesman, until by 
flattering those who habitually depreciate his country, he passes 
safely the ordeal of foreign criticism, and so commends himself to 
our own most cautious approbation. How do we not consult foreign 
mirrors, for our very virtues and vices, not less than for our fashions, 
and think ignorance, bribery, and slavery, quite justified at home, 
if they can be matched against oppression, pauperism and crime in 
other countries ! 

On occasions too, we are bold in applauding heroic struggling for 
freedom abroad ; and we certainly have hailed with enthusiasm every 
republican revolution in South America, in France, in Poland, in 
Germany and in Hungary. And yet how does not our sympathy 
rise and fall, with every change of the political temperature in 
Europe? In just this extent, we are not only not independent, but 
we are actually governed by the monarchies and aristocracies of the 
Old World. 

You may ask impatiently, if I require the American citizen to 
throw off all submission to law, all deference to authority, and all 
respect to the opinions of mankind, and that the American Kepublic 
shall constantly wage an aggressive war against all foreign systems? 
I answer, no. There is here, as everywhere, a middle and a safe 
way. I would have the American citizen yield always a cheerful 
acquiescence, and never a servile adherence, to the opinions of the 
majority of his countrymen and of mankind, whether they be en 
grossed in the forms of law or not, on all questions involving no 
moral principle ; and even in regard to such as do affect the con 
science, I would have him avoid not only faction, but even the ap 
pearance of it. But I demand, at the same time, that he shall have 
his own matured and independent convictions, the result not of any 
authority, domestic or foreign, on every measure of public policy, 
and so, that while always temperate and courteous, he shall always 
be a free and outspeaking censor, upon not only opinions, customs 
and administration, but even upon laws and constitutions themselves. 
What I thus require of the citizen, I insist, also, that he shall allow 
to every one of his fellow-citizens. I would have the nation also, 
though moderate and pacific, yet always frank, decided and firm, in 
bearing its testimony against error and oppression ; and while ab- 


staining from forcible intervention in foreign disputes, yet always 
fearlessly rendering to the cause of republicanism everywhere, by 
influence and example, all the aid that the laws of nations do not 
peremptorily, or, in their true spirit, forbid. 

Do I propose in this a heretical, or even a new standard of public 
or private duty ? All agree that the customary, and even the legal 
standards in other countries are too low. Must we then abide by 
them now and forever? That would be to yield our independence, 
and to be false towards mankind. Who will maintain that the 
standard established at any one time by a majority in our country is 
infallible, and therefore final? If it be so, why have we reserved, 
by our constitution, freedom of speech, of the press, and of suffrage, 
to reverse it ? No, we may change everything, first complying, how 
ever, with constitutional conditions. Storms and commotions must 
indeed be avoided, but the political waters must nevertheless be agi 
tated always, or they will stagnate. Let no one suppose that the 
human mind will consent to rest in error. It vibrates, however, only 
that it may settle at last in immutable truth and justice. Nor need 
we fear that we shall be too bold. Conformity is always easier than 
contention ; and imitation is always easier than innovation. There 
are many who delight in ease, where there is one who chooses, and 
fearlessly pursues, the path of heroic duty. 

Moreover, while we are expecting hopefully to see foreign customs 
and institutions brought, by the influence of commerce, into confor 
mity with our own, it is quite manifest that commerce has recipro 
cating influences, tending to demoralize ourselves, and so to assimilate 
our opinions, manners and customs, ultimately to those of aristocracy 
and despotism. We cannot afford to err at all on that side. We 
exist as a free people only by force of our very peculiarities. They 
are the legitimate peculiarities of republicanism, and, as such, are 
the test of nationality. .^ 

Nationalij^J It is as just as it is popular. Whatever policy, in- </__ 
terest ormstitutTon is local, sectional, oFToreign, must be zealously 
watched and counteracted ; for it tends directly to social derange 
ment, and so to the subversion of our democratic constitution. 

But it is seen at once that this nationality is identical with that 
very political independence which results from a high tone of indi 
viduality on the part of the citizen. Let it have free play, then, and 
so let every citizen value himself at his just worth, in body and soul; 

VOL. IV. 20 


namely, not as a serf or a subject of any human authority, or the 
inferior of any class, however great or wise, but as a freeman, who 
is so because " Truth has made him free ; " who not only, equally 
with all others, rules in the republic, but is also bound, equally with 
any other, to exercise designing wisdom and executive vigor and 
efficiency in the eternal duty of saving and perfecting the state. 
When this nationality shall prevail, we shall no more see fashion, 
wealth, social rank, political combination, or even official proscrip 
tion, effective in suppressing the utterance of mature opinions and 
true convictions ; and so enforcing for brief periods, with long reac 
tions, political conformity, at the hazard of the public welfare, and 
at the cost of the public virtue. 

Let this nationality prevail, and then, instead of keenly watching, 
not without sinister wishes, for war or famine, the fitful skies, or the 
evermore capricious diplomacy of Europe; and instead of being 
hurried into unwise commercial expansion by the rise of credit there, 
and then back again into exhausting convulsions and bankruptcy by 
its fall, we shall have a steady and a prosperous, because it will be 
an independent, internal commerce. 

Let this nationality prevail, and then we shall cease to undervalue 
our own farmers, mechanics, and manufacturers, and their produc 
tions ; our own science, and literature, and inventions ; our own ora 
tors and statesmen ; in short, our own infinite resources and all-com 
petent skill, our own virtue, and our own peculiar and justly envied 

Then, I am sure that, instead of perpetually levying large and 
exhausting armies, like Eussia, and without wasting wealth in emu 
lating the naval power of England, and without practising a servile 
conformity to the diplomacy of courts, and without captiously seeking 
frivolous occasions for making the world sensible of our importance, 
we shall, by the force of our own genius and virtue, and the dignity 
of freedom, take, with the free consent of mankind, the first place in 
the great family of nations. 

Gentlemen of the Institute: From the earnestness with which the 
theory of free trade is perpetually urged in some quarters, one might 
suppose that it was thought that the cardinal interest of the country 
lay in mere exchanging of merchandise. On the contrary, of the^ 
three gr^nt. wheg1 <">f "^manl prosperity, agriculture is the main one^ 
manufacture second, and trade is the last. The cardinal interest of 


this and every country is, and always must be, production. It is not 
traffic, but labor alone, that converts the resources of the country into 
wealth. The world has yet to see any state become great by mere 
trade. It has seen many become so by the exercise of industry. 

Where there are rjjvprgjfiprl rpsmirp.^ nr>4- industry is applied to 
^mly a few staples, three great interest are neglected, viz. : natural 
resources^ which are left unimproved ; kbor^that is left unemployed ; 
and internal exchanges, which a diversity of industry would render 
necessary. jTh^Eoreign commerce, which is based on such a narrow 
system of production, obliges the nation to sell its staples at prices 
reduced by competition in foreign markets ; and to buy fabrics at 
prices established by monopoly in the same markets. ^ 

This false economy crowds the culture of the few staples with ex 
cessive industry ; thus rendering labor dependent at home, while it 
brings the whole nation tributary to the monopolizing manufacturer 
abroad. When all, or any of the nations of Europe shall, as well as 
ourselves, be found successfully competing with England in manu 
factures, then, and not till then, will the free trade she recommends, 
be as wise for others, as she now insists. But, when that time shall 
come, I venture to predict that England will cease to inculcate that 

The importance of maintaining such a policy as will result in a 
diversified application of industry, seems to rest on these impregnable 
grounds, viz. : 1st. That the use of indigenous materials does not 
diminish, but on the contrary, increases the public wealth. 2d. That 
society is constituted so, that individuals voluntarily classify them 
selves in all, and not in a few, departments of industry, by reason 
of a distributive congeniality of tastes and adaptation of powers ; and 
that while labor so distributed is more profitable, the general content 
ment and independence of the people is secured, and preserved, and 
their enterprise is stimulated and sustained. 

I thmk it must be confessed now, by all candid observers within 
our country, that manufactures have become in a degree the exclu 
sive employment of the citizens of the Eastern States ; and yet they 
are precarious, and comparatively unprofitable, because our own 
patronage, so generously discriminating in favor of European manu 
factures, enables them to make the desired fabrics sometimes at less 
cost : that the citizens of the Middle and Western Stages, are con 
fined chiefly to the raising of staple breadstuff s, for which, while 


they have a great excess above the home consumption, resulting 
from the neglect of domestic manufactures, they find a market almost 
overstocked with similar productions, raised in countries as peculiarly 
agricultural as our own ; and that the citizens of the Southern States 
restrict themselves chiefly to the culture of cotton, of which, practi 
cally, they have the monopoly ; that the annual enlargement of the 
cotton culture tends to depress its price, and that they pay more 
dearly for the fabrics which they use, than would be necessary if our 
own manufactures could better maintain a competition with those of 

These inconveniences would indeed become intolerable evils, if 
they were not compensated in some measure by the great increase of 
wealth resulting from the immigration of foreign labor ; and by the 
establishment of a new and prosperous gold trade between the Atlan 
tic States and California. 

Why should these inconveniences be endured ? Certainly not be 
cause we do not know that they are unnecessary. W^e jealously 
guard our culture of breadstuffs and sugar against the competition 
of the foreign farmer and planter in our own markets. Practically, 
our gold mining is equally protected. We also give an exclusive 
preference in our internal commerce to our own shipping. No 
one questions the advantages derived from these great departments 
of production. But it is not easy to see how the equally success 
ful opening of other domestic resources should not be equally bene- 
> ficial. 

\y .M [ Why should it be less profitable to supply ourselves with copper, 
> jp iron, glass and paper from our own resources, and by our own in- 
\fi A lr^ ustr y t ^ ian ^ * s to su PPty ourselves in the same way with flour, 
e(\v x \ su o ar an d gold? Why should it not be as economical to manufac- 
* F ture our own cotton, wool, iron and gold, as it is to manufacture our 
own furniture, wooden clocks and ships? If mining and manufac 
tures generally were not profitable in England, they would not be 
f prosecuted there. If they are profitable there, they would be profit- 
/ able here. You reply that manufacturing labor is cheaper there. 
Yes, because you leave it there. If you offer inducements, it will 
come here just as freely as agricultural labor now comes. The ocean 
\ is reduced to a ferry. If you must depend on foreign skill for fab- 
\ rics, I pray you bring that skill here, where you can sustain it with 
\ greater economy. 


The advocates of dependence on foreign manufactures tell us that it 
is as well to sell gold and buy iron, as it would be to sell iron to buy 
gold. I reply, 1st. That, to the extent of our necessary consumption, 
having exhaustless resources and adequate industry or ability to 
procure both, we ought to buy neither. 2d. When Boulton, the 
associate of the great Watt, showed his iron manufactory, he said, 
"I sell here what all men are anxious to buy, Power." It has been 
proved that a nation may sell gold for iron without gaining power, 
as many a nation has bought iron without securing it. But it is 
clear, that the nation that makes its own iron creates its own power. 

It seems to be understood by the advocates of foreign manufac 
tures here, that only those branches languish which have not suffi 
cient vigor to be brought to maturity, by never so much protection. 
This is opposed to the experience of all mankind. There is not, in 
France or in England, a successful culture or manufacture that has 
not been made so by the application of national protection and 
patronage. The manufacturers of England are sustained, even now, 
by the sacrifice of agricultural labor there. The decline of agricul 
ture is proved by a rapidly increasing emigration from the British 
islands. What England calls free trade is, indeed, a new form of 
protection, but it is protection, nevertheless. She finds it equally 
effective and expensive. British commerce and British manufactures" 
do indeed flourish, but British empire declines. The decline is seen 
in the tameness of England, now, toward Russia, France, and our 
own country, compared with the different attitude she maintained 
against all offending powers in the age of the elder Pitt and the 
younger Pitt. 

It is insisted, however, that encouragement yielded to the industry 
of one class of citizens is partial and injurious to that of others. 
This cannot be in any just sense true, since the prosperity and vigor 
of t-ach class depend in a great degree on the prosperity and vigor 
of all the industrial classes. But all experience shows, that if govern 
ment do not favor domestic enterprise, its negative policy will benefit 
some foreign monopoly, which, of all class legislation, is most inju 
rious and least excusable. 

Once more, it is said that the present system must be right, because 
predictions of disasters that should result from it have been falsified. 
I do not dwell on the signs which seem now to portend a fearful 
fulfillment, nevertheless, of those predictions. Let it suffice to say, 


that it is as common an error to look prematurely for the blights 
which must follow erroneous culture, as it is to expect propitious 
fruits from that which is judicious. This nation Js youthful and, 
^vigorous. It cannot now suffer long and deeply from any cause, for 
it has great recuperative energies. It is not destined to an immedi 
ate fall, or even to early decline. It is the part of wisdom, never 
theless, not to try how much of erroneous administration it can bear, 
but to adapt our policy always so as to favor the most complete and 
lasting success of the republic. 

Gentlemen of the Institute: I refrain from discussingjjiejdetails 
of a protective policy. Circumstances are hastening a necessity for 
an examination of them, in another place, where action loTlows de 
bate, anc[ is effective. I shall not be absent nor idle there. But 
"TwITi not attempt to delude either myself or you into the belief that 
the opinions I have expressed, which, I trust, in some degree corres 
pond with your own, will soon become fully engrafted into the 
policy of the government. I shall perform my duty better by show 
ing you that it is not wise to expect, nor even absolutely necessary 
to depend on, the exercise of a just patronage of our industry by 
the government. 

This republic, although constituting one nation, partakes of the 
form of a confederation of many states, and, for the purpose of secu 
ring acquiescence, allows great power to minorities. Although there 
is no real antagonism of interests, there is, nevertheless, a wide diverg 
ence of opinion concerning those interests, resulting from the differ 
ent degrees of maturity and development reached in the several 
states. Massachusetts and Virginia, New York and South Carolina, 
scarcely differ in their ages ; but, nevertheless, they differ in their 
industrial systems as widely as Pennsylvania and Arkansas. The 
old free states have passed through the stages at which the merely 
agricultural and planting states have only arrived. It would practi 
cally be as impossible to bring these latter states immediately up 
to our proper policy, as it would be to carry us backward to the 
system which they are pursuing. They will resist all such efforts, 
earnestly and perse veringly, so long as they shall feel that they are 
unable, like us, to distribute their industry, and so to share in the 
benefits of that policy. All that we can expect, under such circum 
stances, from the government, is some occasional and partial modifi 
cation of its financial policy, so as to favor the success of the efforts 



of the friends of home industry in establishing it on a safe basis, 
without the immediate and direct aid of congress. And this will be 
sufficient. It is not yet forty years since New York applied in vain 
to the United States to construct the Erie canal, which was acknow 
ledged to be the incipient measure in a system of internal improve 
ments to be coextensive with the republic. Now, not only that canal 
has been built, but the whole system is in a train of accomplishment, 
although congress has not only never adopted, but has almost con 
stantly repudiated it. Private and corporate enterprise, sustained by 
the states, has worked on t wVmt, t]ig_fWlp.rnl government has refused 

to undertake. _ The sai __^ 

tern. Capital, labor, science, skill, are augmenting here L Power" is 
cfany becoming cheaper, and consumption more extensive. New 
Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Vermont, 
New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, and 
Ohio, have become manufacturing states. The advantages resulting 
from the policy are indicated, not more by the universal improve 
ment of the agricultural districts in these states, than by the pros 
perity and growth of their towns and cities. Here are Boston, 
Lowell, Lawrence, Springfield, Providence, New Haven, Rutland, 
Bennington, New York, Albany, Troy, Rochester and Buffalo, Phila 
delphia and Pittsburgh, Newark and Paterson, Wilmington and Bal 
timore, Cincinnati and Cleveland ; contrast with them the towns and 
cities of those states which practically adhere to the policy of em 
ploying foreign industry, and you see plainly the results of that 
error. This contrast excites inquiry, and inquiry will go on, until 
it shall correct the great mistake, and introduce universal emulation. 
Persevere, then, (yfntlprnpn. pf fi^^^^oiji^j-^- f or? whileypu are 
represented as hindering the prosperity of the coun^^^mLand^ 
none so much as you, are Kecur^^^^^T^ide^^jt 

me, you are regardeoas favoring privileges anomonopoiies, you 
and none so much as you, are counteracting pauperism and class 
legislation. While you are censured for opposing the interests of 
commerce, you, and none so much as you, are laying sure founda 
tions for a commerce that shall be broad as the limits of the earth, 
and lasting as the necessities and the enterprise of mankind. While 
you are represented as checking the rising greatness of the nation, 
you, and only you, by lifting labor to its rightful rank, are elevating 
the republic to true and lasting independence. 

. , 


A POLITICAL discourse may seem out of time and out of place at 
a classic festival and in academic groves. Nevertheless, the office 
of instructor to a prince brought something more of dignity even to 
the learning and piety of Fenelon. To study the forces and ten 
dency of a republic which is not obscure, cannot, therefore, at any 
time or in any place, be unbecoming an association which regards 
universal philosophy as the proper guide of human life. 

Nations are intelligent, moral persons, existing for the ends of their 
own happiness and the improvement of mankind. They grow, 
mature, and decline. Their physical development, being most obvi 
ous, always attracts our attention first. Certainly we cannot too well 
understand the material condition of our own country. "I think," 
said Burke, sadly, addressing the British house of commons, just 
after the American war, " I think I can trace all the calamities of 
this country to the single source of not having had steadily before 
our eyes a general, comprehensive, well connected, and well propor 
tioned view of the whole of our dominions, and a just sense of their 
bearings and relations." 

Trace on a map the early boundaries of the United States, as they 
were defined by the treaty of Versailles, in 1783. See with what 
jealousy Great Britain abridged their enjoyment of the fisheries on 
the northeast coast, and how tenaciously she locked up against them 
the St. Lawrence, the only possible channel between their inland 
regions and the Atlantic ocean. Observe how Spain, while retaining 
the vast and varied solitudes which spread out westward from the 
Mississippi river to the Pacific ocean, at the same time assigned the 
thirty-first parallel of north latitude as the southern boundary of 
the United States, and thus shut them out from access by that river 
or otherwise to the gulf of Mexico. See now how the massive and 

1 An Address before the Phi Beta Kappa Society of Yale College : New Haven, July 26, 1854. 


anpassable Alleghany mountains traversed the new republic from 
north to south, dividing it into two regions the inner one rich in 
agricultural resources, but without markets ; and the outer one 
adapted to defense and markets, but wanting the materials for com 
merce. Were not the Europeans astute in thus confining the United 
States within limits which would probably render an early separa 
tion of them inevitable, and would also prevent equally the whole 
and each of the future parts from ever becoming a formidable or 
even a really independent Atlantic power ? They had cause for their 
jealousies. They were monarchies, and they largely divided the 
western hemisphere between them. The United States aimed to 
become a maritime nation, and their success would tend to make that 
hemisphere not only republican, but also independent of Europe. 
That success was foreseen. A British statesman, in describing the 
American colonies just before the peace, had said to his countrymen : 
" Your children do not grow faster from infancy to manhood than 
they spread from families to communities, and from villages to na 

The United States, thus confined landward, betook themselves to 
the sea, whose broad realm lay unappropriated; and, having fur 
nished themselves with shipping and seamen equal to the adventu 
rous pursuit of the whale fishery under the poles, they presented 
themselves in European ports as a maritime people. Afterwards, 
their well-known attitude of neutrality, in a season of general war, 
enabled them to become carriers for the world. But they never for 
got, for a moment, the importance of improving their position on the 
coast. France was now the owner of the province of Louisiana, 
which stretched all along the western bank of the Mississippi. She 
wisely sold a possession, which she was unable to defend, to the 
United States, who thus, only twenty years after the treaty of Ver 
sailles, secured the exclusive navigation of the great river; and, 
descending from their inland frontier, established themselves on the 
coast of the gulf of Mexico. Spain soon saw that her colonies on that 
coast, east of the Mississippi, now virtually surrounded by the United 
States, were thenceforward untenable. She, therefore, for an equiva 
lent, ceded the Floridas, and retired behind the Sabine ; and so the 
seacoast of the United States was now seen to begin at that river, 
and, passing along the gulf and around the Pensacola, and beyond 
the capes, to terminate at the St. Croix, in the bay of Fundy. 

VOL IV 21 


The course of the European war showed that Spain was exhausted. 
Nearly all her American colonies, inspired by the example of the 
United States, and sustained by their sympathy, struck for indepen 
dence, established republican systems, and entered into treaties of 
amity and commerce with the republic of the north. 

But the United States yet needed a northern passage fromtheir 
western valleys to the Atlantic ocean. The new channel to be opened 
mtTsTnecessarily have connections, natural or artificial, with the inland 
rivers and lakes. An internal trade, ramifying the country, was a 
necessary basis for commerce, and it would constitute the firmest 
possible national union. Practically, there was, in the country, 
neither a canal to serve for a model nor an engineer competent to 
project one. The railroad invention had not yet been perfected in 
Europe, nor even conceived in the United States. The federal gov 
ernment alone had adequate resources, but, after long consideration 
and some unprofitable experiments, it not only disavowed the policy, 
but also disclaimed the power of making internal improvements. 
Private capital was u n availablejor_reat national^ The 
states were not convinced of the wisdom of undertaking, singly, 
works within their own borders which would be wholly or in part 
useless, unless extended beyond them by other states, and which, 
even although they should be useful to themselves, would be equally 
or more beneficial to states which refused or neglected to join in their 
construction. Moreover, the only source of revenue in the states 
was direct taxation always unreliable in a popular government 
and they had no established credits at home or abroad. Neverthe 
less, the people comprehended the exigency, and their will opened a 
way through all these embarrassments. The state of New York 
began, and she has hitherto, although sometimes faltering, prosecu 
ted this great enterprise with unsurpassed fidelity. The other states, 
according to their respective abilities and convictions of interest and 
duty, have cooperated. By canals we have extended the navigation 
of Chesapeake bay to thecoa^nilds of Maryland at Cumberland, 
and also, by the way of Columbia, to the coal fields of Pennsylvania. 
By canals we have united Chesapeake bay with the Delaware river, 
and have, with alternating railroads, connected that river with the 
Ohio river and with lake Erie. By canals we have opened a navi 
gation between Philadelphia and New York, mingling the waters of 
the Delaware with those of the Earitan. By canals we have given 


access from two several ports on the Hudson to two different coal 
fields in Pennsylvania. By canals we have also extended the navi 
gation of the Hudson, through lake Champlain and its outlet, to the 
St. Lawrence near Montreal. We are just opening a channel from 
the Hudson to Cape Vincent, on lake Ontario, near its eastern termi 
nation, while we long since have opened one from the same river to 
a central harbor on that lake at Oswego. A corresponding improve 
ment, made by the Canadian authorities on the opposite shore, pro 
longs our navigation from lake Ontario to lake Erie. We have also 
connected the Hudson river with the eastern branch of the Susque- 
hanna, through the valley of the Chenango, and again with its 
western tributaries through the Seneca lake. We are also unit 
ing the Hudson with the Alleghany, a tributary of the Missis 
sippi, through the valley of the Genesee. One long trunk of canal 
receives the trade gathered by most of these tributary channels, while 
it directly unites the Hudson with lake Erie at Buffalo. The shores 
of that great lake are the basis of a second part of the same system. 
Canals connect the Alleghany, in the state of Pennsylvania, with 
lake Erie, at Erie ; the Ohio river, at Portage and at Cincinnati ; with 
lake Erie, at Cleveland and Toledo ; and again the Ohio river, in the 
state of Indiana, with lake Erie, through the valley of the Wabash. 
Lake Superior, hitherto secluded from even internal commerce, is 
now being connected with the other great lakes by the canal of the 
falls of St. Marie; and, to complete the whole, the Illinois canal 
unites the lakes and all the extensive system I have described with 
the Mississippi. Thus, by substituting works purely artificial, we 
have not only dispensed with the navigation of the St. Lawrence, 
but have also opened a complete circuit of inland navigation and 
traffic between New Orleans, on the gulf, and New York, Philadel 
phia, and Baltimore, on the Atlantic. The aggregate length of those 
canals is five thousand miles, and that of the inland coasts thus 
washed by natural and artificial channels exceeds twenty thousand 

Railroads constitute an auxiliary system of improjments T 
more complex and more comprehensive. By railroads we have con 
nected, or are in the act of connecting together, all the principal sea 
ports on the Atlantic coast and on the coasts of the gulf of Mexico, 
namely, Portland, Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Nor 
folk, Charleston, Mobile, and New Orleans. Again railroads from 


each or most of these ports proceed inland through important towns, 
to great depots on the St. Lawrence, the lakes, the Ohio, and the 
Mississippi, namely, Quebec, Montreal, Ogdensburgh, Oswego, Bo- 
chester, Buffalo, Erie, Cleveland, Sandusky, Toledo, Monroe, Detroit, 
Chicago, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Louisville, St. Louis, Cairo, and 
Memphis. Again there are tributaries which search out agricultu 
ral and mineral productions and fabrics, accumulated at less notable 
points; and so a complete system is perfected, which leaves no inha 
bited region unexplored, while it has for its base the long line of 
seaboard. The aggregate length of these railroads is sixteen thou 
sand miles, and the total cost is six hundred millions of dollars. 

Immediately after the purchase of Louisiana, President Jefferson 
having conceived the idea of a national establishment on the Pacific 
coast, an exploration of the intervening wastes was made. An 
American navigator, about the same time, visited the coast itself, 
and thus laid the foundation of a title by discovery. A commercial 
settlement, afterwards planted on the Columbia river by the late 
John Jacob Astor, perished in the war of 1812. Ten years ago, the 
great thought of Pacific colonization revived, under the influence 
of the commercial activity resulting from the successful progress of 
the system of internal improvements. Oregon was settled. Two 
years afterward, its boundaries were defined, and it was politically 
organized ; and now it constitutes two prosperous territories. 

The social, military, and ecclesiastical institutions of Mexico proved 
unfavorable to an immediate success of the republican system. Bev- 
olution became a chronic disease there. Texas separated, and prac 
tically became independent, although Mexico refused to recognize 
her separation. After some years, Texas was admitted as a state into 
our Federal Union. A war which ensued resulted, not only in the 
relinquishment of Mexican claims upon r Cj$as, but in the extension 
of her coast frontier to the Bio Grande, and also in the annexation 
of New Mexico and Upper California to the United States. 

Thqq, in piKtiJ-fiye^yeftre after the peace of Versailles, the United 
^States advanced from the ffiBaiaajppf^flTifl occupied a line stretching 
through eighteen degrees of latitude on the Pacific coast, overlook 
ing the Sandwich islands and Japan, and confronting China (the 
Cathay for which Columbus was in search when he encountered the 
bewildering vision of San Domingo). The new possession was divi 
ded into two territories and the state of California. The simultane- 


ous discovery of native gold in the sands and rocks of that State 
resulted in the instantaneous establishment of an active commerce, 
not only with our Atlantic cities, but also with the ports of South 
America and with the maritime countries of Europe, with the Sand 
wich Islands, and even with China. Thus the United States ceased 
to be a mere Atlantic nation, and assumed the attitude of a great 
continental power, enjoying ocean navigation on either side, and 
bearing equal and similar relations to the eastern and to the western 
coast of the old world. The national connections between the At 
lantic and Pacific regions are yet incomplete ; but the same spirit 
which has brought them into political union is at work still, and no 
matter what the government may do or may leave undone, the neces 
sary routes of commerce, altogether within and across our own 
domain, will be yet established. 

The number of states has increased, since this aggrandizement 
began, from seventeen to thirty-one ; the population from five mil 
lions to twenty-four millions; the tonnage employed in commerce 
from one million to four and a half millions ; and the national reve 
nues from ten millions to sixty millions of dollars. Within that 
period, Spain has retired altogether from the continent, and two con 
siderable islands in the Antilles are all that remains of the New 
World which, hardly four centuries ago, the generous and pious 
Genoese navigator, under the patronage of Isabella, gave to the 
kingdoms of Castile and Leon. Great Britain tenders us now the 
freedom of the fisheries and of the St. Lawrence, on conditions of 
favor to the commerce of her colonies, and even deliberates on the 
policy of releasing them from their allegiance. The influences of 
the United States on the American continent have resulted already 
in the establishment of the republican system everywhere, except in 
Brazil, and even there in limiting imperial power. In Europe they 
have awakened a war of opinion, that, after spreading desolation into 
the steppes of Eussia, and to the base of the Carpathian mountains, 
has only been suppressed for a time by combination of the capital 
and of the political forces of that continent. In Africa, those influ 
ences, aided by the benevolent efforts of our citizens, have produced 
the establishment of a republic, which, beginning with the abolition 
of the traffic in slaves, is going steadily on toward the moral regen 
eration of its savage races. In the Sandwich Islands, those influences 
have already effected, not only such a regeneration of the natives, 




but also a political organization, which is bringing that important 
commercial station directly under our protection. Those influences 
have opened the ports of Japan, and secured an intercourse of com 
merce and friendship with its extraordinary people numbering forty 
millions thus overcoming a policy of isolation which they had prac 
tised for a hundred and fifty years. The same influences have not 
only procured for us access to the five principal ports of China, but 
also have generated a revolution there, which promises to bring the 
three hundred millions living within that vast empire into the society 
of the western nations. 

How magnificent is the scene which the rising curtain discloses to 
us here ! and how sublime the pacific part assigned to us ! 

" The eastern nations sink, their glory ends, 
And empire rises where the sun descends." 

But, restraining the imagination from its desire to follow the influ 
ences of the United States in their future progress through the Ma 
nillas, and along the Indian coast, and beyond the Persian gulf, to 
the far-off Mozambique, let us dwell for a moment on the visible 
results of the national aggrandizement at home. Wealth has every 
where increased, and has been equalized with much success in all the 
states, new as well as old. Industry has persevered in opening newly 
discovered resources, and bringing forth their treasures, as well as in 
the establishment of the productive arts. The capitol, which at first 
seemed too pretentious, is extending itself northward and southward 
upon its noble terrace, to receive the representatives of new incom 
ing states. The departments of executive administration continually 
expand under their lofty arches and behind their lengthening colon 
nades. The federal city, so recently ridiculed for its ambitious soli 
tudes, is extending its broad avenues in all directions, and, under the 
hands of native artists, is taking on the graces, as well as the fullness, 
of a capital. Where else will you find authority so august as in a 
council composed of the representatives of thirty states, attended by 
ambassadors from every free city, every republic, and every court, 
in the civilized world ? In near proximity, and in intimate connec 
tion with that capital, a metropolis has arisen, which gathers, by the 
agency of canals, of railroads, and of coastwise navigation, the pro 
ducts of industry in every form throughout the North American 
states, as wdl those under foreign jurisdiction as those which consti- 


tute the Union, and distributes them in exchange over the globe a 
city whose wealth and credit supply or procure the capital employed 
in all the great financial movements within the republic, and whose 
press, in all its departments of science, literature, religion, philan 
thropy, and politics, is a national one. Thus, expansion and aggran 
dizement, whose natural tendency is to produce debility and dissolu 
tion, have operated here to create, what before was wanting, a social, 
political, and commercial centre. 

In considering the causesof this material pn-owt.l^ n.llowmiop, n-mst. 
h^rrm^ ]ihp.rajjv made, for great advantages of space, climate, and 
resources, as well as for the weakness of rm+wnrrl T-^m stn.-qrif^ fr>r the 
vices of foreign governments, and for the disturbed and painful con 
dition of society under them causes which have created and sus 
tained a tide of emigration towards the United States unparalleled, 
at least in modern times. But when all this allowance shall have 

been made, we shall still find thatj h^ phpn^m^^aJ^^iurfly dn^ to 
the operation here of some great ideas, either unknown before, or 
not before rendered so effective. These ideas are, first, the ec^ialhy 
of men in a state, that is to say, the equality of men constituting a 
state ; seconaIyT*the equality of states in a combination, or, in other 

, . *^ ^^^-~-2-^---^~i^2^---aP--*-~V|-^ 

words, the equality or states constituting a nation. I3y the consti 
tution of every state in the American Union, each citizen is guaran 
teed his natural rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; 
and he, at the same time, is guaranteed a share of the sovereign 
power, equal to that which can be assumed by any other citizen. 
This is the equality of men in the state. By the constitution of the 
United States, there are no subjects. Every citizen of any one state 
is a free and equal citizen of the United States. Again, by the con 
stitution of the United States, there are no permanent provinces, or 
dependencies. The Union is constituted by states, and all of them 
stand upon the same level of political rights. This is the equality 
of states in the nation. 

The reduction of the two abstractions which I have mentioned into 
the concrete, in the constitution of the United States, was, like most 
other inventions, mainly due to accident. There were thirteen sev 
eral states, in each of which, owing to fortunate circumstances attend 
ing their original colonization, each citizen was not only free, but 
also practically equal, in his exercise of political power, to every 
other citizen of that state. The freedom and equality of the citizen, 


and the inalienability of his natural rights, were solemnly reaffirmed 
in the Declaration of Independence. These thirteen states were sev 
erally free and independent of each other. They, therefore, were 
equal states. Each was a sovereign. They needed free and mutual 
commerce among themselves, and some regulations for securing to 
each equal facilities of commerce with foreign countries. A union 
was necessary to the attainment of these ends. But the citizens of 
each state were unwilling to surrender either their natural and ina 
lienable rights, or the guardianship of them, to a common government 
over them all, even to attain the union which they needed so much. 
So a federal central government was established, which is sovereign 
only in commerce at home and abroad, and in the necessary commu 
nications with other nations ; that is to say, sovereign only in regard 
to the mutual internal relations of the states themselves, and in regard 
to foreign affairs. In this government the states are practically equal 
constituents, although the equality was modified by some limitations 
found necessary to secure the assent of some of the states. The 
states were not dissolved, nor disorganized, but they remain really 
states, just as before, existing independently of each other and of the 
Union, and exercising sovereignty in all the municipal departments 
of society. The citizen of each state also retains all his natural 
rights equally in the Union and in the state to which he belongs, and 
the United States are constituted by the whole mass of such citizens 
throughout all the several states. There was an unoccupied common 
domain, which the several states surrendered to the federal authori 
ties, to the end that it might be settled, colonized, and divided into 
other states, to be organized and to become members of the Union 
on an equal footing with the original states. When additions to this 
domain were made from foreign countries, the same principles seemed 
to be the only ones upon which the government could be extended 
over them, and so, with some qualifications unimportant on the 
present occasion, they became universal in their application. 

No other nation, pursuing a career of aggrandizement, has adopted 
the great ideas thus developed in the United States. The Macedo 
nian conquered kingdoms for the mere gratification of conquest, and 
they threw off the sway he established 1 over them as soon as the 
sword dropped from his hand. The Eomans conquered, because the 
alien was a barbarian rival and enemy, and because Eome must fill 
the world alone. The empire, thus extended, fell under the blows 


of enemies, subjugated but not subdued, as soon as the central power 
bad lost its vigor. The Ottoman, although he conquered with the 
sword, conciliated the subjected tribes by admitting them to the rites 
of a new and attractive religion. The religion, however, was of this 
world, and sensual, and therefore it debased its votaries. France 
attempted to conquer Europe in retaliation for wrongs committed 
against herself; but the bow broke in her hands, just as it was bent 
to discharge the last shaft. Spain has planted many colonies and 
conquered many states, but the Castilian was proud and haughty ; 
he enslaved the native and oppressed the Creole. The Czar wins his 
way amid kindred races, as a parent extending protection in the 
enjoyment of a common religion. But the paternal relation in 
politics is a fiction of despotism, which extinguishes all individual 
energy and all social ambition. Great Britain has been distinguished 
from all these vulgar conquerors. She is a civilizer and a mission 
ary. She has planted many colonies in the west, and conquered 
many and vast countries in the east, and has carried English laws 
and the English language around the world. But Great Britain at 
home is an aristocracy. Her colonies can neither be equal to her, 
nor yet independent. Her subjects in those countries may be free, 
but they cannot be Britons. Consequently, her dependencies are 
always discontented, and insomuch as they are possessed or swayed 
by freemen, they are only retained in their connection with the 
British throne by the presence of military and naval force. You 
identify an American state or colony by the absence of the federal 
power. Everywhere, on the contrary, you identify a British colony, 
whether in British America, or on the Pacific coast, or on its islands, 
or in Bombay, or at Saint Helena, or at Gibraltar, or on the Ionian 
isles, by the music of the imperial drum-beat and the frown of royal 
battlements. Great Britain always inspires fear, and often commands 
respect, but she has no friends in the wide family of nations. So it 
has happened, that heretofore nations have either repelled, or 
exhausted, or disgusted the colonies they planted and the countries 
they conquered. > 

The United States, on the contrary, expand, not by force of arms 1 _ ^r 
but by attraction. The native colonist no sooner reaches a new and 
distant home, whether in a cleft of the Rocky mountains or on the 
seashore, than he proceeds to found a state, in which his natural and 
inalienable rights shall be secure, and which shall become an equal 

VOL. IV. 22 


member of the federal union, enjoying its protection, and sharing 
its growing greatness and renown. Adjacent states, though of foreign 
habits, religion and descent, especially if they are defenceless, look 
with favor upon the approach of a power that will leave them in full 
enjoyment of the rights of nature, and at the same time that it may 
absorb them, will spare their corporate existence and individuality. 
The attraction increases as commerce widens the circle of the national 

If these positions seern to require qualification at all, the very 
modifications -will, nevertheless, serve to illustrate and sustain the 
general principles involved. The people of Mexico resist annexa 
tion because they fear it would result in their being outnumbered by 
Americans, and so lead to the restoration of African slavery, which 
they have abolished. The natives of the Sandwich Islands take 
alarm lest by annexation they may themselves be reduced to slavery 
The people of the Canadas hesitate because they disapprove the 
modification of the principles of equality of men and of states in 
favor of slaveholding states, which were admitted in the federal con 

What is the moral to be drawn from the physical progress of the 

UniterTStates ? it is, that the strongest bonds of cohesion in society 
"" J^ "tt&&^& ~~2-^%~~-r~tt~~*^ ^3&--^- i^~^~J 
are commerce ana gratitude for urofecteu ireeaom. 

/^<<Z -Z.*- Z^ * 1 ^--2^---3^--^ J T*^-^-^ ^---^--^ 

While the majestic physical progress of the United States is no 
longer denied as a fact, it is, nevertheless, too generally regarded as 
purely accidental, and likely to cease through a want of correspond 
ing intelligence and virtue. The principle assumed in this reasoning 
is just. A nation deficient in intelligence and virtue is an ignoble 
one, and no ignoble race can enlarge or even retain empire. But 
examination will show that the facts assumed are altogether errone 
ous. In order to prove that we are deficient in intelligence, the 
monuments of ancient and modern nations, all of whom have either 
completed their courses or passed the middle point, are arrayed be 
fore us, and we are challenged to exhibit similar monuments of equal 
merit on the part of the United States ; as if time were not an essen 
tial condition of achievement, and as if, also, circumstances exert no 
influence in directing the activity of nations. It is true that we can 
show no campaigns equal to those of Caesar, or of Frederick, or of 
Napoleon; and no inspirations of the divine art equal to the Iliad, 
or the Eneid, or the Inferno, or the dramas of Shakspeare. But it 


is equally true that neither Greece, nor Eome, nor France, nor Eng 
land, has erected a tower as high as Babel, or a mausoleum so mas 
sive as the grand pyramid. 

Eeasoning a priori, it is manifest, that insomuch as the physical 
progress of the United States has been unprecedented while it has 
followed a method, and insomuch as this progress has been conducted 
with magnanimity through many temptations and embarrassments, 
it is of itself no unworthy monument of national intelligence. 

The constitutions (of the states and of t,V>p. JTnion^ n.rp. confessedly 
unsurpassed. Grant, as is true, that all the great political ideas 
which are embodied in them, were before known ; grant, moreover, 
that a favorable conjuncture for reducing those abstractions to the 
concrete had come ; grant, also, that favorable conditions of nature 
and human society concurred : nevertheless, even then I may ask, 
was ever higher genius, or greater talent, displayed, in conducting 
the affairs of men, than were exercised first in framing the many 
peculiar and delicate parts of that system of government, with pro- ^ 
portions so accurate that each might bear the very tension and pres 
sure to which it was to be exposed, and then in bringing all those 
parts together, and forging them into one great machine with such 
wonderful skill, that at the very first touch of the propelling popu 
lar spring, it went at once into full and perfect operation, and has 
continued its movements for seventy years^ in prosperity as well as 
in adversity, amid the factions generated by a long peace, and the dis 
turbances of war, not only without interruption or irregularity, but 
even without a jar. Consider the sagacity of the people that, amid 
the clouds of jealousy and the storms of passion, raised by heated 
partisans, deliberately examined, and resolutely adopted, that won 
derful yet untried mechanism, so well contrived for their use. and 
decided that it should not merely have a trial, but should stand for 
ever, the only government of themselves and of their posterity. 
Consider, that not only was this vast engine set in motion by the 
voluntary act of the people, but it has also been kept in motion by 
their own perpetually renewed consent and direct activity ; and that, 
although like every other combination of forces, it has its dead points, 
yet it passes through them with perfect regularity, and without even 
any sensible diminution of motion, owing to the watchful perform 
ance by the people at critical moments, of the functions devolved 
upon them. Consider how many and various are the human wills, 


which meet and concur, every time a fresh impulse is given to the 
great mechanism. A majority of the states, neglecting or refusing 
to act on any such occasion, could bring the government to a dead 
stand. Consider that the people not only interfere on such critical 
occasions, but also that they are continually supplying the necessary 
force to sustain the movements of the subordinate parts of the machine. 
There are two and a half millions of electors, and every one of 
these is charged with the performance, for the most part annually, 
of four classes of functions, in as many distinct spheres. Once, 
generally in each year, the electors choose a mayor or supervisor, 
aldermen or trustees, or selectmen, justices of the peace, police 
officers, clerks, assessors of taxes, commissioners of public charities, 
commissioners of streets, roads and bridges, and subalterns, or other 
officers of the militia, in their respective cities, towns, or other 
forms of municipalities. Again, the electors, generally once in each 
year, choose officers nearly as numerous, and of a higher grade, to 
execute judicial, ministerial, and fiscal powers of a similar nature, 
within the counties, which embrace several cities, towns and muni 
cipalities. Again, they elect governors, lieutenant-governors, sena 
tors and representatives, judges, treasurers and mini3ters of finance, 
of education, of public works and of charities, in the states constitu 
ted by such counties, states sovereign in all things, except the few 
departments they have voluntarily assigned to the Federal Union. 
Once more, the citizens choose, once in two years, representatives, 
and once in three years, senators, who exercise the legislative powers 
of the republic; and once in four years, the vice-president and presi 
dent of the United States, its chief executive magistrates. The 
peace, order, prosperity, and happiness, and even the safety of society, 
rest manifestly on the soundness of judgment with which these many 
and various electoral trusts are discharged. Reflect, now, for a 
moment, on the perturbations of society, the devices and combina 
tions of parties, and the appliances of corruption, to which the 
electoral body is at all times exposed. Could these functions be 
performed with results so generally auspicious if the people of the 
United States did not, as a mass, excel other nations in intelligence, 
as much as in the good fortune of inheriting such extraordinary 

Look at the operation of this system in yet another aspect. ^o_t 
onlv the constitutions of the several states, but even the constitution 


of the Union, stands only by the voluntary consent of the peopi 
Kypbysical - force, whicJ^J^ieffovernrnent could not suppress, they 
could suDv^rT anyor all of th^consStuSon&jSve^wrffiouTloj^, 
^noactingoniy by CL^GemerK^m^m^mornuiy to certain established 
conditions, they can change or subvert all these constitutions. There 
is indeed no restraining power acting upon them, from within or 
from without. Practically, they do change the constitutions of the 
several states once in twenty years. Yet they work such changes 
generally without commotion, and they have never made one with 
out replacing the constitution removed by a better one. A few of 
the states inherited the jurisprudence of the civil law, and all the 
others the common and statute laws of England. Does any one 
deny that they have sagaciously retained all the parts of those 
excellent codes which are essential to order and civil liberty, and 
have modified others only so far as was required by the changing 
circumstances of society and the ever-unfolding sentiments of justice 
and humanity ? Let OUT logical amendments of the rules of evi 
dence, and our simple processes of pleading and practice in courts 
of justice and our meliorations of imprisonment for debt, and of 
eleemosynary laws, and of penitentiary systems, vindicate the intel* 
lectual vigor and wisdom of the American people. 

Modern invention, until the close of the last century, was chiefly 
employed in discovering new laws of nature, and in shaping those 
discoveries into the forms of theories and maxims. Thus far, in the 
present century, invention has employed itself in applying those 
theories and maxims, by various devices of mechanism, or otherwise, 
to practical use. In Europe, those devices are chiefly such as regard 
festhefrc effect. In America, on the other hand, those devices are 
such as have for their object the increase of power. Required to 
subdue nature through a broad range quickly, and to bring forth her 
various resources with haste, and yet having numbers inadequate 
and capital quite unequal to such labors, the American studies chiefly 
economy and efficiency. He has examined every instrument, and 
engine, and combination, and composition, received from his elder 
trans-atlantic brother, in the light of those objects, and has either 
improved it, or devised a new and better one. He aims at doing the 
most that is possible as quickly as possible ; and this characteristic 
is manifested equally in his weapons of war and in his instruments 
of peace, whether they are to be used in the field, or in the work- 


shop, on the land, or on the sea, the fire-arm, the ax, the plow, the 
railroad, the clipper-ship, the steam-engine and the printing-press. 
His railroads cost less and are less perfect than those in other coun 
tries, but he builds ten miles where they build only three. He 
moves passengers and freights on such- roads and in his ships with 
less safety, but with greater cheapness and velocity. He prepares 
his newspapers, his magazines, and his treatises, with less care, but 
he prints a hundred for one. If the European has foiled to give 
him necessary principle, or to embody it in a practical machine, he 
finds out the one, or constructs the other promptly for himself. He 
wanted machines for working up his forests, and he invented the 
saw-gang, and the grooving and planing machines; for cleaning 
his cotton, and he invented the gin; for harvesting his wheat, and 
he invented the reaper. He needed mechanical force to navigate his 
long rivers and broad lakes, and he converted the steam engine into 
a marine power. He needed dispatch in communicating intelligence, 
and he placed his lightning-rod horizontally, and beating it into a 
wire, converted it into a writing telegraph. 

Fifty years ago there was no American science and no American 
literature. Now there is an American tenancy in every intellectual 
department, and none acknowledge its presence and usefulness more 
freely than those whose fame has least to fear from competition. 

It seems to me that this intellectual development of the United 
States is due chiefly to the adoption of the great idea of universal 
emulation. Our constitutions and laws open every department of 
human enterprise and ambition to all citizens without respect to 
birth, or class, or condition, and steadily though cautiously exert a 
power quite effective in preventing any accidental social inequality 
from becoming fixed and permanent. 

There still remains the question whether the moral development 
is coordinate with those of physical power and mind in the United 
States. A republic rnay be safe, even though it be weak, and though 
it be in a considerable degree intellectually inactive, as is seen in 
Switzerland ; but a republic cannot exist without virtue. 

It will not suffice to examine the question through the lens of tra 
ditional prejudice. A kind of reverence is paid by all nations to 
antiquity. There is no one that does not trace its lineage from the 
gods, or from those who were especially favored by the gods. Every 
people has had its age of gold, or Augustan age, or heroic age an 


age, alas! forever passed. These prejudices are not altogether 
unwholesome. Although they produce a conviction of declining 
virtue, which is unfavorable to generous emulation, yet a people at 
once ignorant and irreverential would necessarily become licentious. 
Nevertheless, such prejudices ought to be modified. It is untrue, 
that in the period of a nation s rise from disorder to refinement, it is 
not able to continually surpass itself. We see the present plainly, 
distinctly, with all its coarse outlines, its rough inequalities, its dark 
blots, and its glaring deformities. We hear all its tumultuous sounds 
and jarring discords. We see and hear the past, through a distance 
which reduces all its inequalities to a plane, mellows all its shades 
into a pleasing hue, arid subdues even its hoarsest voices into har 
mony. In our own case, the prej udice is less erroneous than in most 
others. The revolutionary age was truly a heroic one. Its exigen 
cies called forth the genius and the talents and the virtues of society, 
and they ripened amid the hardships of a long and severe trial. But 
there were selfishness, and vice, and factions, then, as now, although 
comparatively subdued and repressed. You have only to consult 
impartial history, to learn that neither public faith, nor public loyalty, 
nor private virtue, culminated at that period in our own country, 1 
while a mere glance at the literature, or at the stage, or at the poli 
tics, of any European country, in any previous age, reveals the fact 
that it was marked, more distinctly than the present, by licentious 
morals and mean ambition. 

Reasoning d priori again, as we did in another case, it is only just 
to infer in favor of the United States an improvement of morals from 
their established progress in knowledge and power ; otherwise, the 
philosophy of society is misunderstood, and we must change all our 
courses, and henceforth seek safety in imbecility, and virtue in super 
stition and ignorance. 

What shall be the test of the national morals? Shall it be the 
eccentricity of crimes? Certainly not; for then we must compare 
the criminal eccentricity of to-day with that of yesterday. The 
result of the comparison would be only this, that the crimes of 
society change with changing circumstances. 

1 "I ought not to object to your reverence for your fathers, as you call them, meaning, I pre 
sume, the government, and those concerned in the direction of public affairs ; much less could I 
be displeased at your numbering me among them. But, to tell you a very great secret, as far as 
I am capable of comparing the merits of different periods, I have no reason to believe that we 
were better than you are. We had as many poor creatures and selfish beings in proportion, 
among us, as you have among you ; nor were there then more enlightened men, or in greater 
number in proportion, than there are now." John Adams s Letter to Josiah Quincy, Feb. 9,1811. 


Loyalty to the state is a public virtue. Was it ever deeper-toned 
or more universal than it is now ? I know there are ebullitions of 
passion and discontent, sometimes breaking out into disorder and 
violence ; but was faction ever more effectually disarmed and harm 
less than it is now ? There is a loyalty that springs from the affec 
tion that we bear to our native soil. This we have as strong as any 
people. But it is not the soil alone, nor yet the soil beneath our feet 
and the skies over our heads, that constitute our country. It is its 
freedom, equality, justice, greatness and glory. Who among us is 
so low as to be insensible of an interest in them? Four hundred 
thousand natives of other lands every year voluntarily renounce 
their own sovereigns, and swear fealty to our own. Who has ever 
known an American to transfer his allegiance permanently to a for 
eign power ? 

The spirit of the laws, in any country, is a true index to the morals 
of the people, just in proportion to the power they exercise in making 
them. Who complains, here or elsewhere, that crime or immorality 
blots our statute-books with licentious enactments ? 

The character of a country s magistrates, legislators, and captains, 
chosen by a people, reflect their own. It is true that, in the earnest 
canvassing which so frequently recurring elections require, suspicion 
often follows the magistrate, and scandal follows in the footsteps of 
the statesman. Yet, when his course has been finished, what magis 
trate has left a name tarnished by corruption, or what statesman has 
left an act or an opinion so erroneous that decent charity cannot 
excuse, though it may disapprove ? What chieftain ever tempered 
military triumph with so much moderation as he who, when he had 
placed our standard on the battlements of the capital of Mexico, not 
only received an offer of supreme authority from the conquered 
nation, but declined it? 

The manners of a nation are the outward form of its inner life. 
Where is woman held in so chivalrous respect, and where does she 
deserve that eminence better? Where is property more safe, com 
mercial honor better sustained, or human life more sacred? 

Moderation is a virtue in private and in public life. Has not the 
great increase of private wealth manifested itself chiefly in widening 
the circle of education and elevating the standard of popular intelli 
gence? With forces which, if combined and directed by ambition, 
would subjugate this continent at once, we have made only two very 


short wars the one confessedly a war of defense, and the other ended 
by paying for a peace and for a domain already fully conquered. 

Where lies the secret of the increase of virtue whir,h ^ g tl-mg "h^n 
estabT?sired7 ~ir think it will be found in the entire emancipation of 
the consciences of men from either direct or indirect control by 
established ecclesiastical or political systems. Religious classes, like 
political parties, have been left to compete in the great work of moral 
education, and to entitle themselves to the confidence and affection 
of society, by the purity of their faith and of their morals. 

I am well aware that some, who may be willing to adopt the gene 
ral conclusions of this argument, will object that it is not altogether 
sustained by the action of the government itself, however true it may 
be that it is sustained by the great action of society. I cannot enter 
a field where truth is to be sought among the disputations of passion 
and prejudice. I may say, however, in reply, first, that the govern 
ments of the United States, although more perfect than any other, 
and although they embrace the great ideas of the age more fully than 
any other, are, nevertheless, like all other governments, founded on 
compromises of some abstract truths and of some natural rights. 

As government is impressed by its constitution, so it must neces 
sarily act. This may suffice to explain the phenomenon complained 
of. But it is true, also, that no government ever did altogether act 
out, purely and for a long period, all the virtues of its original consti 
tution. Hence it is, that we are so well told by Bolingbroke, that 
every nation must perpetually renew its constitution or perish. 
Hence, moreover, it is a great excellence of our system that sove 
reignty resides, not in congress and the president, nor yet in the 
governments of the states, but in the people of the United States. 
If the sovereign be just and firm and uncorrupted, the governments 
can always be brought back from any aberrations, and even the con 
stitutions themselves, if in any degree imperfect, can be amended. 
This great idea of the sovereignty of the people over their govern 
ernment glimmers in the British system, while it fills our own with 
a broad and glowing light. 

" Let not your king and parliament in one, 
Much less apart, mistake themselves for that 
Which is most worthy to be thought upon, 
Nor think they are essentially the STATE. 
Let them not fancy that the authority 

VOL IV 23 


And privileges on them 

Conferr d, are to set up a majesty, . 

Or a power or a glory of their own ; 

But let them know it was for a deeper life 

Which they but represent ; 

That there s on earth a yet auguster thing, 

Veil d though it be, than parliament or king." 

Gentlemen, you are devoted to the pursuit of knowledge in order 
that you may impart it to the state. What Fenelon was to France, 
you may be to your country. Before you teach, let me enjoin upon you 
to study well the capacity and the disposition of the American peo 
ple. I have tried to prove to you only that, while they inherit the 
imperfections of humanity, they are yet youthful, apt, vigorous, and 
virtuous, and, therefore, that they are worthy, and will make noble 
uses of your best instructions. 


SOCIETY and government are mutually related and inseparable. 
The material, intellectual, moral and spiritual conditions of every 
people, determine, through either a direct exercise of their will or 
their passive consent, the nature and form of their government. 
Reasoning from the attributes of the Creator and from the constitu 
tion of man, we justly conclude that a high stage of social happiness 
is attainable, and that beneficent government is therefore ultimately 
possible. Any different theory makes the hopes which sustain virtue 
delusive, and the Deity, who inspires them, a demon, equally to be 
feared and hated. Experience, however, teaches us that the advances 
of mankind toward such happiness and government are very slow. 
Poetry, indeed, often presents to us pleasing scenes of national 
felicity ; but these are purely imaginary, while history is an almost 
unrelieved narrative of political crimes and public dangers and 

We discover, by induction, moral laws as inflexible as the material 
laws of the universe. We know, therefore, that the tardiness of 
political progress results from a failure thus far to discover or apply 
those moral laws. The failure, at first view, excites surprise. Social 
melioration is apparently an object of general and intense desire. 
Certainly, the arts which subserve material safety, subsistence and 
comfort, have been eminently improved. We construct useful 
engines recently conceived ; we search the whole surface of the 
round earth with comparative ease ; we know the appointed courses 
and seasons of worlds which we can scarcely see. It is doubtful 
whether the arts of architecture, painting, sculpture and poetry, are 
susceptible of higher perfection. Why, then, does political science 
remain obscure, and the art of government uncertain and perplexed. 

It happens, in some degree, because material wants have hitherto 
exacted excessive care ; in some degree, because the advantages which 

1 An oration at Plymouth, December 21, 1855. 


result from political improvements are indirect and diffusive ; but 
chiefly because the science is in its nature recondite, and the art 
intrinsically difficult. 

Metaphysics is a science confessedly abstruse, and generally 
regarded as irksome and fruitless. Lord Bacon so pronounces, and 
he explains : " For the wit and mind of man, if it work upon mat 
ter, which is the contemplation of the creatures of God, worketh 
according to the stuff, and is limited thereby ; but if it work upon 
itself, as the spider worketh his web, then it is endless, and brings 
forward, indeed, cobwebs of learning, admirable for the fineness of 
thread and work, but of no substance or profit." How could the 
study of groups be either easier or more satisfactory than that of 
individual man ? The same philosopher confesses that " government 
is a part of knowledge, secret and retired." 

Consider only one state. Its magnitude is immense, its outlines 
are indistinct, it is without symmetry of parts ; its principles and 
dispositions are a confused aggregate of the imperfectly understood 
principles and dispositions of many thousands or even many millions 
of men. The causes which have chiefly given form and direction 
to these principles and dispositions are either unknown or forgotten ; 
those which are now modifying them are too subtle for our examina 
tion. The future of states involves further conditions, which lie 
outside of the range of human foresight, and therefore are called 
accidents. Human life is short, while the process of induction in 
political science reaches through generations, and even ages. Phi 
losophers seldom enjoy facilities for that process. Hence, they 
" make imaginary laws for imaginary commonwealths, and their dis 
courses are as the stars, which give little light, because they are so 
high." Statesmen, on the contrary, " write according to the states 
where they live, what is received law, and not what ought to be law." 

A constitutional alteration is often necessary to secure a desirable 
social improvement ; but such an alteration cannot be made without 
a previous change of public opinion in the state, and even of opinion 
in surrounding states ; for nations are social persons, and members 
of a universal commonwealth. Habit resists such changes. Timi 
dity, though looking forward, is short-sighted ; and with far-sighted 
veneration, which always looks backward, opposes such changes. 
Laws, however erroneous, or however arbitrarily established, acquire 
a supposed sanctity from the ceremony of their enactment, and 


derive great strength from protracted acquiescence. In a despotic 
state, no subject can move changes. In a free one, each member 
may oppose, and opponents more easily combine than advocates. 
Ambition is the ruling passion of states. It is blind to defects and 
dangers, while hurrying them on in careers of aggression and aggran 
dizement. The personal interests and ambitions of many effective 
members of the state cling to its institutions, however erroneous or 
injurious, and protect them against innovation. Reform can only 
appeal to reason and conscience. Conservatism arouses prejudice, 
cupidity and fear, and adroitly excites and directs hatred against the 
person of the reformer. Retaliation too naturally follows ; and so 
the controversy, which properly ought to be a public and dispassionate 
one, changes imperceptibly into a heated conflict of factions. Human 
ity and benevolence are developed only with increasing knowledge 
and refinement. Hence, castes and classes long remain ; and these, 
although all equally interested in a proposed melioration, are, by an 
artful direction of their mutual antipathies, made to defeat it by their 
implacable contentions. Material interests are immediately roused 
and combined in opposition, because they suffer from the least dis 
turbance. The benefits of a social change are more distant, and 
therefore distrusted and undervalued. The law of progress certainly 
does not require changes of institutions to be made at the cost of 
public calamities, or even of great private inconveniences. But 
that law is, nevertheless, inexorable. A necessary reformation will 
have its way, peacefully if favored, violently, if resisted. In this 
sense, the Founder of Christianity confessed that he had come 
upon the earth to bring, not peace, but a sword. Revolutions are 
not divinely appointed attendants of progress, nor is liberty necessa 
rily born of social convulsion, and baptized with blood. Revolu 
tions, on the contrary, are the natural penalties for unwise persistence 
in error, and servile acquiescence in injustice and oppression. Such 
revolutions, moreover, are of doubtful success. Most men engage 
readily enough in civil wars, and for a flash are hot and active ; but 
they cool from natural unsteadiness of temper, and abandon their ob 
jects, and, destitute alike of principle, honor and true courage, betray 
themselves, their associates, and even their cause, however just and 
sacred. Happily, however, martial revolutions do not always fail. In 
some cases, the tempers and dispositions of the nation undergo a propi 
tious change ; it becomes generous, brave and self-denying, and free- 


dom consequently gains substantial and enduring triumphs. It is hard, 
in such cases, to separate the share of fortune from that of merit, in 
analyzing the characters of heroes. Nor is it absolutely necessary. 
The martial heroism of such revolutions is wisely honored, even with 
exaggeration, because such honors stimulate a virtuous and healthful 
emulation. Mankind seek out the noblest among the successful 
champions, and investing him with imaginary excellence in addition 
to his real merit, set him apart as an object of universal veneration 
to the world s end. We recognize such impersonations in Tell and 
Alfred, in Wallace and Washington. 

These successful martial revolutions, however, only consummate 
changes which were long before projected and prepared by bold, 
thoughtful, earnest and persevering reformers. There is justly due, 
therefore, to these reformers, at least some of the homage which 
redeemed nations award to their benefactors. We shall increase that 
tribute, if we reflect that the sagacity which detects the roots and 
causes from which national calamities and thraldoms spring, and 
proceeds calmly to remove them, and to avert the need of an ulti 
mate sanguinary remedy, or prepare that remedy so that it shall be 
effectual, combines the merits of genius, of prudence and humanity, 
with those of patriotism. Our admiration of these reformers will 
rise still higher when we remember that they always are eminently 
good men, denied the confidence and sympathies of the country 
which they are endeavoring to save. They are necessarily good 
men, because only such can love freedom heartily. 

" All others love, not freedom, but license, which never hath more scope or 
indulgence than under tyrants. Hence it is that tyrants are not often offended, 
nor stand much in doubt of bad men. as being all naturally servile ; but in whom 
virtue and true worth most is eminent, these they fear in earnest, as by right their 
masters. Against these lie all their hatred and suspicion. Consequently, neither 
do bad men hate tyrants, but have been always readiest, with their falsified names 
of loyalty and obedience, to color over their base compliances." 

The devotion of these real authors of all beneficent revolutions to 
the melioration of human society is, therefore, the most perfect and 
impressive form of magnanimity. 

I know very well that this estimate is not generally allowed ; nor 
is the injustice of the case peculiar. It occurs in all other depart 
ments of activity. We justly honor the name of Watt, who applied 
the ascertained mechanical power of steam to the service of the use- 


fill arts of social life and the memory of Fulton, who converted the 
steam engine into a marine power, and sent it abroad on all lakes, 
rivers and oceans, an agent of commerce, knowledge, civilization and 
freedom. Yet we seldom recall the previous and indispensable 
studies of the Marquis of Worcester, who announced his invention 
of the steam engine itself in those words, as full of piety and benevo 
lence as of joy: 

"Thanks to G-od, next to those which are due for creation and redemption, for 
having vouchsafed an insight into so great a secret of nature, beneficial to all man 
kind, as this water-commanding engine." 

We cheerfully accord renown to Morse, who produced the electric 
telegraph ; but we are prone to forget that Franklin discovered the 
germ of that great invention, JDV boldly questioning the awe-inspiring 
lightnings in their native skies. 

There is abundant excuse for the popular neglect of peaceful social 
reformers. Either they are engaged in apparently idle and visionary 
speculations, or else occupied in what seems even more absurd, an 
obstinate contention with the prevailing political philosophy of their 
age. Those speculations assume the consistency of science that 
contention, the dignity of knowledge only when, in some later age, 
the principles they announced have been established. In the mean 
time, they pass for malcontents and fanatics. The rude taste of 
society generally delights in themes and characters which are sound 
ing, marvelous, and magnificent ; and prefers the march, the camp, 
the siege, the surprise, the sortie, the charge, the battle, with its 
quickly vibrating fortunes the victory, the agonies of the night 
which follows it, and the pomp amcl revelry of the day which ban 
ishes the complaining memories of that fearful night to the humani 
tarian s placid studies, or the bewildering debates of polemic politics. 

Excusable, however, as the injustice is, which I have described, it 
is, nevertheless, unwise and injurious. It discourages necessary, 
noble and generous efforts, and is chief among the bulwarks of super 
stition and despotism. The energies of men can never remain sta 
tionary. A nation that will not tolerate the activity of intellectual 
energy in the pursuit of political truth, must expect the study of that 
truth to cease. A nation that has ceased to produce original and 
inventive minds, restless in advancing the landmarks of knowledge 
and freedom, from that moment has begun to recede towards igno- 


ranee and slavery. Every stage backwards renders its return more 

I am sure that this great error will not last always, and yet I do 
not think it is near its end. How long it shall endure, is known 
only to Him who, although He commands us to sow and to plant 
with undoubting faith that we shall reap and gather the fruits of our 
culture, reserves to Himself, nevertheless, not only the control, but 
even the knowledge, of the forthcoming seasons. 

It is because I am unwilling to forego a proper occasion for disa 
vowing that error, that I am here to celebrate, over the graves of the 
Forefathers, on this day, devoted to their memories, the virtues, the 
labors, and the sufferings of the Puritans of New England and Old 
England. My interest in the celebration is not, like your own, a 
derived, but only a reflected one. I am not native here, nor was I 
born to the manner of this high and holy observance. The dogma 
tical expositions of the Christian scheme pronounced by the Puritans 
have not altogether commanded my acceptance. I shall, therefore, 
refrain from even an approach to those finer parts of my great theme, 
justly familiar to your accustomed orators, which reach the profound- 
est depths of reverence and love in the bosoms of the lineal descend 
ants of the founders of New England. A few years after the death 
of Napoleon, I stood before the majestic column in the Place Ven- 
dome, that lifts his statue high above the capital of France. When 
I asked who scattered there a thousand wreaths of flowers, freshly 
gathered, that covered its base, the answer came quickly back, " All 
the world." So I, one only of the same vast constituency, cheerfully 
cast my garland upon the tomb of the Pilgrims, and lend my voice 
to aid your noble purpose of erecting here a worthier and more 
deserved monument to the memory of the Pilgrims. It is, indeed, 
quite unnecessary to their fame ; yet it is, alas, only too necessary to 
correct the basis of the world s judgment of heroic worth. Make 
its foundations broad as the domain which the adventurers of the 
Mayflower peacefully, and without injustice, rescued from the tramp 
of savage tribes ! Let its material be of the imperishable substance 
of these everlasting hills ! Let its devices and descriptions be colos 
sal, as becomes the emblems and tributes which commemorate a 
world s ever-upheaving deliverance from civil and religious despo 
tism ! Let its shaft rise so high that it shall cast its alternate shadows, 
changing with the progress of the sun in his journey, across thj 


Atlantic and over the intervening mountains to the Pacific coast ! 
It must, even then, borrow majesty from the rock which was the first 
foothold of the Pilgrims on these desolate shores, instead of impart 
ing to it sublimity. 

But I may not touch the domestic story of your ancestors. Only 
a Jewish hand could strike the cymbals with the boldness due to the 
theme of the march of the host of Israel, under the guidance of its 
changeful pillar of cloud and of fire, while pursued by the chariots 
and horsemen of Egypt, through the divinely divided floods of the 
Arabian sea; or, without temerity almost sacrilegious, lift from the 
waving boughs the harps which the daughters of Jerusalem hung 
upon the willows, while by the side of the rivers of Assyria they 
sat down, and wept the piteous captivity of their nation, beloved, 
but temporarily forsaken of God. 

It is a sure way of promoting knowledge and virtue, as well as of 
rising to greatness and goodness, to study with due care and rever 
ence the operation of sublime principles of conduct in advancing the 
progress of mankind. I desire so to contemplate the working of the 
leading principle of the Puritans. 

I confess that the Puritans neither disclosed nor discovered any 
new truths of morals or of government. None such have been dis 
covered, at least since the Divine Teacher set forth the whole system 
of private and public ethics among the olive groves, on that one 
which was his favorite among the mountains that look down upon 

Nor was it their mission to institute a new progress of mankind. 
Although the eastern nations, the first to enjoy the light of civiliza 
tion, had, long before the age of the Puritans, sunk into that deep 
sleep from which there is as yet no awaking, yet Europe was even 
then full of energy, enterprise and hope. The better elements of 
the oriental and mediterranean civilizations had survived and, coop 
erating with the pure influences of Christianity, were enlightening 
and refining the southern and western nations. The western church, 
which until recently was unpartitioned, had long defended the faith 
against the Saracens, and protected feeble states against the 
aggressions of ambitious princes. It still held the nations in the 
bonds of a common fraternity. Nor had it forgotten to proselyte 
after the primitive manner, by inculcating morality and charity. 
It had, by its potent command, addressed to the conscience of 

VOL. IV. 24 


Christendom, abolished throughout Europe that system of personal 
servitude in which a. large, perhaps the largest, portion of every com 
munity had been held, under every form of government. It bore 
its testimony steadily against that system, everywhere declaring that 
"God and nature equally cry out against human slavery; that serfs 
and slaves are a part of the human family which Christ died to re 
deem ; and that equality is an essential incident of that brotherhood 
which he enjoins as a test by which his disciples shall be known." 

The foundations of that comprehensive international code, which 
is now everywhere accepted, were broadly laid. It was then clearly 
taught that "there are in nature certain fountains of justice, from 
which all pure civil laws flow, varying only in this, that as waters 
take tinctures and tastes from the soils through which they run, so 
do civil laws differ according to the regions and governments where 
they are planted." Luther had already summoned Europe to a new 
and more vigorous morality, and Calvin s sharp voice was ringing 
through the continent, calling the faithful away from all ostentatious 
ceremonies of worship, to that pure and spiritual one which God 
prefers " before all temples." The feudal policy, although founded 
in very imperfect conceptions of civil society, had saved, through 
the recent decline, many personal and political rights and privileges 
which otherwise would have been swept away, as they were in Asia, 
by the desolating hand of absolute power. Chivalry, a wild vine, 
engrafted upon Christianity, was bearing abundant fruits of courage, 
constancy, gallantry, munificence, honor and clemency. The ma 
chinery of mercenary armies was not yet perfected, and the security 
of government was still held to depend, not on laws and force, but 
on the approval and sympathies of the people. Commerce had dis 
covered that the oceans were designed, not to separate, but to unite 
nations, and was extending its field over all habitable climes, and 
taking on the dignity of its new functions as an auxiliary of empire. 
Manufactures had been incorporated as a distinct wheel in the en 
ginery of national wealth ; and the productive classes had already 
attained a position among the ruling elements of states. A wise 
policy of liberal naturalization was breaking up local septs and clans, 
and distributing the seeds of material and social improvement 
throughout both hemispheres. Indolence, expense and faction, had 
prepared that decline of aristocratic orders which still continues. 
Just notions of the free tenure of lands, and even that great idea of 


the universal freedom of labor, which is now agitating the world, 
prevailed quite widely. Italy, 

" The dark ned ages last remaining light," 

had never failed to present examples of republican institutions. The 
monarchical constitutions of that period contained sharply-defined 
limitations, and they were vigorously guarded and defended. It was 
a general theory, that the subject could not be taxed without con 
sent of the legislature, and that princes could only govern in con 
formity to laws. England especially had a parliament, the type of 
modern legislatures, trial by jury, magna charta and the common 
law, constituting one fourfold and majestic arch for the support of 
civil liberty. She had, moreover, emancipated herself from the 
supremacy of the See of Eome, and the popular. mind was intently 
engaged equally in the pursuit of theological truth, and in the appli 
cation of the organic laws to the maintenance and defence of public 
and private rights. 

It was the age of Spenser, Shakspeare, Bacon and Milton. Poetry 
had risen from lyric beauty to epic dignity ; history, from fabulous 
chronicle to philosophical argument ; and learning, from words and 
forms, to things and laws. Reasoning from these circumstances, it 
seemed that the onward progress of society was assured, and that 
civil and religious liberty were about to be established on broad and 
enduring foundations. 

Nevertheless, a reaction had already begun, whose force is even 
yet unspent. The See of Rome took alarm from the movement of 
the reformation, and combined with kings against nations. Henry 
YIII arrogated to himself the very same spiritual supremacy, 
which, with the aid of the people and in the name of Christian lib 
erty, he had wrested from the pope ; and with singular caprice em 
ployed it in compelling conformity to the obnoxious faith and 
worship of Rome, conducted by ecclesiastics who derived their ap 
pointments from himself, and held them at his own pleasure. The 
reign of Mary inaugurated that relapse to Rome, which the caprices 
of Henry had rendered inevitable. Elizabeth reinstalled the refor 
mation, but renewed the regal claim to spiritual supremacy. -The 
people resisted all these ecclesiastical usurpations of the Tudors, and 
they, in retaliation, boldly attempted to subvert the constitutional 
authority of parliament. Elizabeth, under the advice of sagacious 


statesmen, and supported by temporizing churchmen, resorted to the 
favorite expedient of politicians compromise. Compromise is a 
feasible and often a necessary mode of adjusting conflicting material 
interests, but can never justly be extended to the subversion of the 
natural rights or the moral duties of subjects or citizens. Even 
where a compromise is proper in itself, it derives all its strength 
from the fair and full consent of all the parties whom it binds. 
Elizabeth caused the Roman Catholic creed, discipline and ritual to 
be revised and altogether recast, under the direction of leaders of 
some of the conflicting sects ; and thus a new system was produced, 
which, as was claimed, stood midway between the uncompromising 
church of Rome and equally uncompromising latitudinarian Protes 
tantism. The new system was established by law, and a hierarchy 
was appointed by the crown, to whose care it was committed. Ab 
solute and even active conformity was commanded to be enforced by 
pains and penalties in special and unconstitutional tribunals, acting 
without appeal, and in derogation of the common law. The new 
system, whatever might be its religious and ecclesiastical harmony 
with the Divine precepts, was, in its civil aspects, a mere political 
institution. It was offensive and odious to a zealous people, who, 
though divided into opposing sects, agreed in regarding the political 
authority assumed by the state as a sacrilegious usurpation. The 
friends of civil liberty also 1 * condemned it, as a turning of the batte 
ries that had been won from the Roman See, in the name of liberty, 
against the very fortress of liberty itself. Nevertheless, a portion 
of the clergy, who had now become dependent on the state, members 
of the privileged classes, always disinclined to political agitation, 
placemen and waiters for places, the timid, the venal and the frivo 
lous, early gave in their adhesion, and the compromise daily gained 
wider acquiescence, through the appliances of political seduction, 
proscription and persecution. The Church of England was built oa 
that compromise. Incorporated into the constitution with such aux 
iliary political powers, it must necessarily augment the influence of 
the throne, and be subversive equally of the civil and religious lib 
erties of the people. 

A conservative power, a new conservative power, was necessary to 
prevent that fatal consummation. That power appeared in the form 
of a body of obscure religious sectaries, men of monastical devout- 
ness, yet retaining the habits of domestic and social life; simple, but 


not unlearned; unambitious; neither rich enough to forget their 
God, nor yet poor enough to debase their souls ; content with mecha 
nical and agricultural occupations in villages and rural districts, yet 
conscious of the liberty with which Christ had made them free, and 
therefore bold enough to confront ecclesiastical and even royal au 
thority in the capital. Serious, as became their religious profession, 
they grew under persecution to be grave, formal and austere. Cho 
sen emissaries of God, as they believed, they willingly became out 
casts among men. Divinely constituted depositaries of pure and 
abounding truth, as they thought, they announced, as their own rule 
of conduct, that no article of faith, no exercise of ecclesiastical au 
thority, no rule of discipline, and not even a shred of ceremonial or 
sacrament, should be accepted, unless sanctioned by direct warrant 
from the Scriptures, as interpreted by themselves, in the free exer 
cise of their own consciences, illuminated by the Holy Spirit. God, 
although a benevolent Father, was yet, as they believed, jealous 
towards disobedience of His revealed will, and would punish con 
scious neglect of its commandments. These were the Puritans. 
They came into the world to save it from despotism ; and the world 
comprehended them not. They refused to acquiesce in the compro 
mise, because it involved a surrender of natural rights, and a viola 
tion of principles of duty toward God. Nevertheless, they were 
true Christians, and, therefore, they declined to set up their own 
convictions as a standard for others who subscribed to the Christian 
faith, and freely allowed to all their fellow subjects the same broad 
religious liberty which they claimed for themselves. They persisted 
in non-conformity. The more hardly pressed, the more firmly they 
persisted. The more firm their persistence, the more severe and 
unrelenting was the persecution they endured. More than a hun 
dred years virtually outlawed as citizens and subjects, and outcasts 
from the established church, the Puritans bore unflinchingly their 
unwavering testimony against the compromise, before magistrates 
and councils, in the pillory, under stripes, in marches, in camps, in 
prison, in flight, in exile, among licentious soldiery and dissolute 
companions in neighboring lands ; on the broad and then unexplored 
ocean, when the mariners lost their reckoning, and the ship s supplies 
became scanty and her seams opened to the waves ; on unknown 
coasts, homeless, houseless, famishing and dying ; in the leafless for 
est, surrounded by ice and snow, fearful of savage beasts and con- 


fronting savage men. The compromise policy failed. Civil and 
religious liberty was not overborne; it rose erect; it triumphed; it 
is still gaining new and wider and more enduring triumphs; and 
tyrants have read anew the lesson, so often wasted upon them before, 
that where mankind stand upon their convictions of moral right and 
duty, in disobedience to civil authority, there is no middle course 
of dealing with them between the persecution that exterminates and 
the toleration that satisfies. The Puritans were not exterminated 
they were not satisfied. 

The Puritans thus persisted and prevailed because they had adopted 
one true, singular and sublime principle of civil conduct, namely, 
that the subject in every state has a natural right to religious liberty 
of conscience. They knew too well the weakness of human guaran 
ties of civil liberty, and the frailty of civil barriers against tyranny. 
They, therefore, did not affect to derive the right of toleration from 
the common law, or the statutes of the realm, or magna charta, or 
even from that imaginary contract between the sovereign and the 
subject which some publicists had, about that time, invented as a 
basis for civil rights. They resorted directly to a law, broader, older 
and more stable than all these a law, universal in its application 
and in its obligation, established by the Creator and Judge of all 
men, and, therefore, paramount to all human constitutions. Alger 
non Sidney, Locke and Bacon, and even Hooker, chosen and ablest 
champion of the church of England, demonstrated the existence of 
this law, deriving the evidences of it, and of its universal nature and 
application, from natural and revealed religion, in the high debates 
of the seventeenth century. Blackstone, Yattel and Montesquieu, 
have built upon it their respective systems of municipal law, public 
law, and government; and our own congress of 1776 sunk into the 
same enduring foundation the corner-stone of this vast and towering 
structure of American freedom. The Puritans could, therefore, lay 
no claim to the discovery of this great principle, or to the promul 
gation of it. But the distinguished glory of having first reduced it 
from speculation to active and effectual application, as a conventional 
rule of political conduct, is all their own. 

This great principle was not only a disturbing, but it was also an 
offensive and annoying one. It was an appeal from the highest sove 
reign power in the state to a sovereign power still higher, and there 
fore was thought seditious. It, of course, encountered then the same 



ingenious sophistry which, although often overthrown, has not even 
yet been silenced. It was argued that, if individual conscience may 
rightly refuse to acquiesce in the results of the general conviction 
collected by the state and established as law, it may also rightfully 
resist the law by force, which would produce disorder and lead to 
anarchy. It was argued, also, that, insomuch as civil government is 
of divine appointment, it must be competent to act as an arbiter 
between conflicting consciences, and that implicit obedience to its 
decrees, as such arbiter, is, therefore, a religious duty. As well 
might have been foreseen, there arose, on the side of the Puritans, 
contestants worthy of the majestic principle they defended contest 
ants, whose voices, then silenced by persecution or drowned by pub 
lic clamor, have reached this more congenial age, and are now giving 
form and condensation to the whole science of political ethics. Not 
again recalling the names of Locke and Sidney, there were Edwards, 
profoundest metaphysician of all ages, and Milton, always discon 
tented and distrusted among men, but familiar with angels, and 
learned in the counsels of Heaven. It was their sufficient reply, that 
unenlightened and unsanctified consciences will never disturb despo 
tism with their remonstrances, and that consciences illuminated and 
purified cannot be perverted to error ; that God has delegated to no 
human tribunal authority to interfere between Himself and the inoni- 
.tor which He has implanted in the bosom of every moral being, and 
which is responsible to its Author alone ; and that the boundaries 
of human authority are the boundaries of Eternal justice, ascertained 
by the teachings of that monitor which, where it is free and fully 
awakened, must always be the same. They answered further, and 
with decisive energy, that traditions and compacts subversive of free 
dom were altogether void, because the masses of men living at one 
time in a state, must always have supreme control over their own 
conduct, in all that concerns their duty to God and their own happiness. 
Fortunately, the Puritans had keen sagacity. They would not 
ask liberty of conscience as a political concession ; because, if granted 
as such, it might be revoked. Fortunately they were not purposely 
a political or civil body, but a purely religious one ; a church in the 
wilderness, as they described themselves ; a church without secular 
combinations, interests or ends ; a church with no interest but duty, 
no end but to avoid the Divine disfavor, and no head but God. For 
tunately, also, the age was as yet a religious one. Skepticism, which 


has since so wildly overrun large portions of Europe, and scattered 
its poison even here, had not then entered the world ; and the ple 
nary nature and authority of the Holy Scriptures, to which the Puri* 
tans appealed, was universally acknowledged. It was especially 
felicitous that the lives of the Puritans vindicated their sinceritj^ 
magnanimity and piety. Equally in domestic and social life, and in 
the great transactions of the state in which they became concerned, 
their conduct was without fear and without reproach. With all 
these advantages, the Puritans, as naturally as wisely, referred them 
selves to the Divine revelations for the principle which they pro 
mulgated. With effective simplicity, they confined themselves to 
the main point in debate. They neither pretended to define nor to 
make summaries of all the natural rights of man which tyranny 
might invade, nor to trace out the ultimate secular consequences of 
the great principle on which they insisted. They rested the defense 
of the one natural right which was distinctly invaded, on no grounds 
of expediency or of public utility, but on the grounds alone that 
God had given it, and that man could not either invade or surrender 
it, without sin against the Divine majesty. It was the peculiarity of 
the right thus invaded and defended, that lent to the Puritans their 
crowning advantage. Keligion is the profoundest and most univer 
sal affection of our nature. Apparently the cause of innumerable 
differences and endless controversies, it is, nevertheless, the one com 
mon and principal element which controls the actions of all men. 
It sustained the Puritans. It gradually won for them the respect 
and sympathies of men and of nations. The right assailed brought 
equally conscience and the love of liberty, the two most elastic and 
enduring springs of activity, into resistance. Its invasion was sacri 
legious, because it assumed to add to the Divine commandments, and 
to take away from disobedience to them the curses that are written 
against it in the Book of Life. Primitive apostolical eloquence, 
which reminds us of the inspired apology of Paul before Agrippa, 
revived in its defense. The Puritans spake from their prisons after 
this manner : 

"Upon a careful examination of the Holy Scriptures, we find the English hie 
rarchy to be different from Christ s institution, and to be derived from Antichrist, 
being the same the pope left in this land, to which we dare not subject ourselves. 
We farther find that God has commanded all that believe the gospel to walk in that 
holy path and order which he has appointed in his church. Wherefore, in the 


reverend fear of his name, we have joined ourselves together, and subjected our 
souls and bodies to those laws and ordinances, and have chosen to ourselves such 
a ministry of pastors, teachers, elders and deacons, as Christ has given to his 
church on earth to the world s end, hoping for the promised assistance of his grace 
in our attendance upon him, notwithstanding any prohibition of men, or what by 
men can be done unto us. We are ready to prove our church order to be war 
ranted by the word of God, allowable by her majesty s laws, and no ways preju 
dicial to the sovereign power, and to disprove the public hierarchy, worship and 
government, by such evidence as our adversaries shall not be able to withstand, 
protesting, if we fail herein, not only willingly to sustain such deserved punish 
ment as shall be inflicted upon us, but to become conformable for the future, if we 
overthrow not our adversaries. * * * We therefore, in the name of God and 
of our sovereign the queen, pray that we may have the benefit of the laws and 
of the public charters of the land, namely, that we may be received to bail, till 
we be by order of law convicted of some crime deserving of bonds. We plight 
our faith unto God, and our allegiance to her majesty, that we will not commit 
anything unworthy of the gospel of Christ, or to the disturbance of the common 
peace and good order of the land, and that we will be forthcoming at such reason 
able warning as your lordship shall command. Oh, let us not perish before trial 
and judgment, especially imploring and crying out to you for the same. How 
ever, we take the Lord of heaven and earth, and his angels, together with your 
own consciences and all persons in all ages, to whom this our supplication may 
come, to witness that we have here truly advertised your honors of our case and 
maze, and have in all humility offered to come to Christian trial." 

How sublimely, and yet with touching effect does this opening of 
their cause by the Puritans illustrate the Divine instruction that the 
fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom ! 

Let us consider now the scope and the full import of the Puritan 
principle. That scope is not narrowed by any failure of the Puri 
tans themselves to comprehend it, or even by any neglect on their 
part to cover it fully in their own political conduct. Christianity is 
the same, however narrowed or perverted by erroneous creeds or 
practices among the faithful. Nor is the real merit of the Puritans 
diminished, because they did not fully comprehend all possible appli 
cations of the principle they maintained. Human progress is only 
the following of an endless chain, suspended from the throne of God. 
The links of that chain are infinite in number. The human hand 
can grasp only one of them at once. 

The Puritan principle of the inviolability of the right of con 
science, necessarily covers the inviolability of all the acknowledged 
natural rights of man. as well those which concern his duty to him 
self and his duty to others, as those which arise out of his direct 
duties toward God. Certainly the Creator and Ruler of the Uni 

VOL. IY. 25 


verse, the beneficent Father and Preserver of all life, the universal 
Lawgiver and Judge of all moral beings, is not in any human sense 
a jealous and exacting God, incensed by the withholding of homage 
due to Himself, and yet regardless of the neglect of other human 
duties which He has prescribed. Assuredly, when He commands us 
not only to walk humbly before Himself, but also to perfect our own 
nature, and to do justice, and love mercy toward other men, He 
has given us the same absolute right to the free exercise of, our 
faculties, in performing these latter duties, that He has given us for 
the performance of the first. Nor is there any homage to God so 
acceptable as the upright heart and pure. He that loveth not his 
brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not 
seen ? 

The Puritan principle further involves the political equality of all 
men. Absolute rights arise out of the moral constitution of man. 
There is only one moral constitution of all men. The absolute 
rights of all men are therefore the same. Political equality is 
nothing else than the full enjoyment, by every member of the state, 
of the absolute rights which belong equally to all men. Any 
abridgment of that equality, on whatever consideration, except by 
discriminating justice in the punishment of crimes, is therefore for 
bidden to human government by the Divine authority. The Puritans 
so understood their own great principle, in its bearing upon the 
right of conscience. 

"Liberty of conscience (said one of their earliest organs) is the natural right 
of every man. * * * He that will look back on past times, and examine into 
the true causes of the subversion and devastation of states and countries, will find 
it owing to the tyranny of princes and the persecution of priests. The ministers 
of the established church say, If we tolerate one sect, we must tolerate all. 
This is true. They have as good a right to their consciences as to their clothes or 
estates. No opinions or sentiments of religion are cognizable by the magistrates, 
any further than they are inconsistent with the peace of civil government." 

But this latitude of the principle of tolerance has been always 
vigorously and efficiently opposed by prejudice, pride and bigotry, 
in every church, in every sect, in every state and under every form 
of government. Each sect has claimed liberty of conscience for it 
self as a natural right, but with gross inconsistency, which invali 
dated its own argument, has denied that liberty to other sects as if 
the Supreme Kuler had made men to agree, instead of differing, upon 


non-essential as well as upon essential articles of religious faith. 
The principle has nevertheless continually gained, and is still gaining 
fresh triumphs. After a long contest in England, toleration was 
granted to all but Roman Catholics and Jews. One hundred and 
fifty years after the organization of the Puritans, the principle 
entered into all the American constitutions. Fifty years later, it 
emancipated the Roman Catholics throughout Great Britain. Only 
a year ago, it removed the disfranchisement of the Jews in the 
British dominions. It has thus irrevocably become a part of the con 
stitution of that great empire. 

The Puritan principle draws closely after it the consequence of 
an absolute separation of church and state, for the reason that the 
toleration of conscience can in no other way be practically and com 
pletely established. That separation has been made in the Ameri 
can constitutions, with abundant advantage to both the cause of 
religion and the cause of good government. Great Britain is ad 
vancing steadily toward the adoption of the same broad, just and 
beneficent policy. The separation of church and state may therefore 
be regarded as a contribution made by the Puritans towards perfect 
ing the art of government. 

The political equality of men has also met with obstinate resistance, 
and has also achieved many and auspicious triumphs. After one 
hundred and fifty years of controversy, it was carried into the 
British constitution by the judicial decision in Somerset s case, that a 
slave could not breathe the air of England. Ten or fifteen years 
later, it was theoretically adopted and promulgated in the declaration 
of American independence. The suppression of the African slave 
trade, by conventions of the states of Christendom, transferred the 
same principle to the law of nations. The abolition of African sla 
very by all of the European nations, and, with few exceptions, also 
by all of the American states, is indicative of the universal adoption 
of the same great principle by all Christian nations, at some period 
not far distant. 

You are now prepared, I trust, for another and still more compre 
hensive view of the Puritan principle, namely : that its full and per 
fect development is the pure system of republican government. 
Such was its marked tendency in the beginning. "A generous dis 
dain of one man s will," says a truly philosophical writer, "is to 
republics what chastity is to woman, a conservative principle, not to 


be argued upon or subjected to calculations of utility." Puritanism 
was a protest against the will of one man, whether that man was 
Pope or King. What form of government, other than the pure re 
public, can there be where there is complete separation of church 
and state and where absolute political equality prevails ? Abolish 
the connection of church and state and all political distinctions be 
tween the members of the state, in any of the kingdoms or empires 
of Europe, and what would remain, or could exist there, but a pure 
republic? If the argument is not yet conclusive, consider then that 
the Puritan principle tends to the pure republic, by virtue of its con 
servative protection of the individual member of the state against its 
corporate oppression ; by virtue, also, of its elevation of individual 
conscience, thus bringing down the importance of the aggregate mass, 
and raising the personal importance and dignity of the subject or 
citizen ; by virtue of the importance it attaches to personal rights, 
exalting them above material interests, and so making those rights, 
and not property, the primary object of the care of government; 
and by virtue, still further, of the openness, directness and frankness 
of conduct which it requires. Equal tolerance in religion, and equal 
enjoyment of the other absolute rights of man, are inconsistent with 
the secrecy and fraud which monarchy and aristocracy necessarily 
employ, and cannot endure private councils or cabals. The Puritan 
principle tends to the pure republic still more obviously, because it 
seeks to abridge the powers of government, and substitute consent 
and free acquiescence as the bonds of union between the members of 
the state, instead of armed or military force. This operation of the 
principle is happily illustrated in our own republic, which, although 
constituted by an ever-increasing number of distinct states, has, nev 
ertheless, been held together eighty years, and is, I trust, to be held 
together forever, without, for that purpose, even the shadow of a 
standing army, an anomaly as pleasing as it is full of profitable in 

Let it be confessed that the Puritans, as a body, were slow to dis 
cern these consequences and tendencies. They disclaimed them long 
and with unquestionable sincerity. 

" Although (said they to Elizabeth) Her Majesty be incensed against us, as if 
we would obey no laws, we take the Lord of heaven and earth to witness that we 
acknowledge, from the bottom of our hearts, Her Majesty to be our lawful Queen 
placed over us for our good; and we give God our most humble and hearty thanks 


for her happy government ; and both in public and private we constantly pray for 
her prosperity. We renounce all foreign power, and acknowledge Her Majesty s 
supremacy to be lawful and just. We detest all error and heresy. Yet we desire 
that Her Majesty will not think us disobedient, seeing we suffer ourselves to be 
displaced rather than yield to some things required. Our bodies and goods, and 
all we have are in Her Majesty s hands ; only our souls which we reserve to our 
God, who is able to save and condemn us." 

Long afterward, and after the Puritans in America had practically 
enjoyed a pure republican government through some generations, 
the colony of Massachusetts saluted Charles II. on his restoration, 
with this loyal address : 

"To enjoy our liberty, and to walk according to the faith and order of the gos 
pel, was the cause of us transplanting ourselves with our wives, our little ones and 
our substance, choosing the pure Christian worship, with a good conscience in this 
remote wilderness, rather than the pleasures of England with submission to the 
impositions of the hierarchy, to which we could not yield without an evil conscience. 
We are not seditious to the interests of Caesar." 

Nevertheless, the reluctance of the Puritans to admit the full ten 
dencies of their principle cannot justly excite surprise. We neces 
sarily fear, and feel our way. when we are treading on unknown 
ground, or in the dark. "Let no one who begins an innovation," 
says Machiavelli, u expect that he shall stop it at his pleasure, or 
regulate it according to his intention." The Puritans never aimed 
to be, and never consciously were secular or political reformers/ 
Their field of labor, as they bounded it, lay all within the church of 
Christ. They sought not an earthly republic, but only the kingdom 
of heaven. When sometimes the thought presented itself, that, by 
reason of their fidelity to their profession, a purer and better politi 
cal state would arise out of the commotions through which they 
were passing, it seemed still to them a merely secondary object, sub 
ordinate to the one sole religious purpose for which they had com 
bined. We all have learned how slowly the sentiment of indepen 
dence, and the principle of republicanism, ripened in these colonies 
during the early stages of the revolutionary contest, and how these 
free institutions rose suddenly under the hands of a people who 
were even yet protesting an enduring loyalty to the throne and par 
liament of Great Britain. It was not so, however, with the master 
spirits, Adams, Otis and Jefferson. Nor was it so in the case of the 
Puritans with Milton. 


" No man (said he), who knows aught, can be so stupid to deny that all men 
naturally were born free, being the image and resemblance of God himself, and 
were, by privilege above all the creatures, born to command and not to obey. 
The power of kings and magistrates is nothing else but what is only derivative, 
transferred and committed to them in trust from the people, to the common good 
of them all, in whom the power yet fundamentally remains and cannot be taken 
from them, without a violation of their natural birthright." 

How, then, has it happened that civil consequences so vast have 
followed the merely religious action of the Puritans ? The apparent 
mystery is easily explained. Civil liberty is an object of universal 
and intense desire. The cause of the Puritans identified itself with 
the cause of civil liberty in England, and ultimately, though on their 
part unconsciously, became the leading element of that cause, both 
in Europe and America. Thus identified and eminent the Puritan 
cause effected the establishment of a republic which endured 
through a short but glorious period in England. Though the British 
nation soon relapsed, and monarchy was restored, yet the Puritan 
principle, nevertheless, modified the constitution, and gave to it the 
popular form which it now bears. A throne yet towers above that 
edifice, but it is no longer the throne of the Stuarts or of the Tudors r 
or even of the Plantagenets. It is simply ornamental. The lords, 
spiritual and temporal, still constitute distinct estates, and retain 
their ancient dignity. But their real political power and influence 
have passed away, and the commons, no longer contesting inch by 
inch for their constitutional rights, are virtually the rulers of the 
British empire. France oscillates so uneasily and tremulously be 
tween the republic and military despotism, that no one who is hope 
ful of progress doubts where the needle will settle at last. It has 
become a proverb, that Europe must soon be either republican or 
despotic. When the compromise system of limited monarchy shall 
have retired, and only the two systems of republicanism and despo 
tism are left to confront each other on that continent, in an age of 
still increasing intellectual and moral energies, the triumph of the 
former, though uncertain in the points of time and manner and in 
regard to the field of contest, will nevertheless be assured. The 
Puritan principle is shaping, already, future republics on the islands 
and continents of the Pacific ocean, and on the heretofore neglected 
coasts of Africa, while the American continent is everywhere 
crowned with free institutions, due to its still more direct and poten 
tial influence. From Plymouth Kock to Labrador, to Magellan, and 


around, by bay, gulf and headland, to ISTootka Sound, the republi 
can system, more or less developed, and more or less firmly estab 
lished, pervades this hemisphere. Such are the already ripening and 
ripened fruits of the vigorous plants of Puritanism, gathered equally 
and promiscuously from the parent stock in England, and from the 
exotic one so carefully transplanted on this rugged coast, and so 
sedulously watered, watched, cherished and reared, by the Pilgrim 

Behold how the unfolding, justly and naturally, as I trust, of a 
theme primarily local, sectional, and even sectarian, has brought us 
to the solution of the great problem of the progress of mankind 
toward social happiness and beneficent government. That higher 
stage of social happiness, that purer form of republican government, 
to which we are tending, are but faintly shadowed forth in the dis 
turbed transition scenes through which we are passing, and even in 
the most perfect institutions which have yet been framed from the 
confused materials of dilapidated and decaying systems. Present 
defects and imperfections no more warrant conclusions against that 
better future which has been indicated, than the incompleteness of 
the development of Christian principles justifies a fear of the ulti 
mate failure of Christianity itself. 

It is a law of human progress, that no work or structure proceed 
ing from human hands shall come forth complete and perfect. Im 
provement, at the cost of labor and of trial, and even suffering 
endless improvement, at such cost, is the discipline of human na 

What, then, shall be the rule of our own conduct ? Shall we grasp 
and hold fast to existing constitutions, with all their defects and defi 
ciencies, and save them from needed amendment, or shall we amend 
and complete them, and so prevent reactions, and the need of san 
guinary revolutions ? Shall we compromise the principles of justice, 
freedom, and humanity, by compliances with the counsels of inte 
rested cupidity or slavish fear, or shall we stand fast always in their 
defense? I know no better rule of conduct than that of the Puri 
tans. Indeed, I know none other that is sure, or even safe. Nor 
can even that great rule be followed successfully without adopting 
their own noble temper and spirit. They were faithful, patient, and 
persevering. They forgot themselves, and their own immediate in 
terests and ambitions, and labored and suffered, that afrer-coming 


generations, among which we belong, might be safer and freer and 
happier than themselves. It can never be too well understood that 
the generations of men, in moral and political culture, sow and plant 
for their successors. " Let it not be grievous to you," said Bradford, 
the meek but brave arid constant leader, to the small arid forlorn 
Pilgrim commonwealth, that he was landing on this rock in mid 
winter " Let it not be grievous to you that you have been made 
instruments to break the ice for others. The honor shall be yours, 
to the world s end." Such was the only worldly encouragement the 
truthful founder of the Plymouth colony could give to his guileless 
comrades. Happily, the Pilgrims needed no others. 

It is a familiar law of nature, that whatever grows rapidly also 
declines speedily. Time and trial are necessary to secure the full 
vigor without which no enterprise can endure. It was only by long, 
perilous and painful endurance and controversy, that the Puritans 
acquired the discipline which, without consciousness of their own, 
qualified them to be the leaders of the nations. 

Need I add, that there can be neither great deeds nor great endu 
rance without faith ; and that true, firm, enduring faith can only be 
found in generous and noble minds? The true reformer, therefore, 
must calculate on frequent and ever-recurring treacheries and deser 
tions by allies, such as Milton graphically describes : 

" Another sort there is, who, coining in the course of these affairs to have their 
share in great actions above the form of law or custom, at least to give their voice 
and approbation, begin to swerve and almost shiver at the majesty and grandeur 
of some noble deed ; as if they were newly entered into a great sin, disputing 
precedents, forms and circumstances, when the commonwealth nigh perishes for 
want of deeds in substance done with just and faithful expedition. To these I 
wish better instruction and virtue equal to their calling." 

Nor will all these qualities suffice, without discretion and gentle 
ness as well as firmness of temper. The courageous reformer will 
shrink from no controversy, when the field is open, the battle is set, 
and the lists are fair. But, on the other hand, he will neither make 
nor seek occasions for activity ; and he will be always unimpassioned. 
Truth is not aggressive ; but, like the Christian religion, is first pure, 
then peaceable. Nor need the reformer fear that occasions for duty 
will be wanting. Error and injustice never fail to provoke contest; 
because, if unalarmed, they are overbearing and insolent ; if alarmed, 
they are rash, passionate and reckless. 


The question occurs, Whence shall come the faith, the energy, the 
patient perseverance, and the moderation, which are so indispensa 
ble? I answer, that all these will be derived from just conceptions 
of the great objects of political action. It was so with the Puritans. 
Their fixed purpose to retain the right of conscience, fully compre 
hended by them, extinguished selfishness and ambition, and called 
into activity in their places the fear of God and the love of man. 
Let them explain themselves : 

" Knowing, therefore, how horrible a thing it is to fall into the hands of the 
living God, by doing that which our consciences (grounded upon the truth of 
God s Word and the example and doctrine of ancient fathers) do tell us were evil 
done, and to the great discrediting of the truth whereof we profess to be teachers, 
we have thought good to yield ourselves into the hands of men ; to suffer what 
soever God hath appointed us to suffer, for the perfecting of the commandments 
of God and a clean conscience before the commandments of men. Not despising 
men, therefore, but trusting in God only, we seek to serve Him with a clear con 
science so long as we shall live here, assuring ourselves that the things that we 
shall suffer for so doing shall be a testimony to the world that great reward is laid 
up for us in heaven, where we doubt not but to forever with those that have 
before our days suffered for the like." 

Contrast these sentiments, so profoundly self- renouncing and rev 
erential of God, with the blasphemous egotism of the French revo 
lutionists of 1798, and contrast also the slowly formed and slowly 
maturing, but always multiplying and ripening fruits of the Puritan 
reformation, with the blasted and shriveled benefits of that other 
great modern convulsion, and you have an instructive and memora 
ble lesson upon the elevation and purity of spirit which alone can 
advance human progress. 

Increase of wealth and commerce, and, the enlargement of empire, 
are not truly primary objects of the American patriot.. These are, 
indeed, worthyof his efforts. But the first object isjthe preserver 
jion of the spirit" of freedom/which is the soul of the republic itself. 
Let that become languid, and the republic itself must languish and* 
decline. Let it become extinct, and the republic must disastrously 
fall. Let it be preserved and invigorated, and the republic will 
spread wider and wider, and its noble institutions will tower higher 
and higher. Let it fall, and so its example fail, and the nations will 
retrograde. Let it endure, and the world will yet be free, virtuous 
and happy. Hitherto, nations have raised monuments to survive 
liberty and empire. And they have been successful. Egypt, As- 

VOL. IV 7 . 26 


syria, Greece and Italy are full of those monuments. Let our ambi- 
tion be the nobler one of establishing liberty n,n^ empire which shall 
survive the most stupendous material structures which genius can 
devise or art erec C, with all the facilities .of increasing knowledge an( j 


Here my reflections on a subject infinitely suggestive come to an 
end. They will not be altogether fruitless, if I have been at all 
successful in illustrating the truths that, continual meliorations of 
society and government are not only possible, but certain; that 
human progress is slow, because it is only the unfolding of the 
Divine Providence concerning man ; that the task of directing and 
aiding that progress is rendered the most difficult of all our labors, 
by reason of oar imperfect knowledge of the motives and principles 
of human conduct, and of countless unforeseen obstacles to be 
encountered ; that this progress, nevertheless, must and will go on, 
whether favored or resisted ; that it will go on peacefully, if wisely 
favored, and through violence, if unwisely resisted ; that neither 
stability nor even safety, can be enjoyed by any state, otherwise than 
by rendering exact justice, which is nothing else than pure equality, 
to all its members; that the martial heroism, which, invoked after 
too long passiveness under oppression and misrule, sometimes achieves 
the deliverance of states, is worthy of all the honor it receives ; but 
that the real authors of all benign revolutions, are those who search 
out and seek to remove peacefully the roots of social and political 
evils, and so avert the necessity for sanguinary remedies ; that the 
Puritans of England and America have given the highest and most 
beneficent illustration of that conservative heroism which the world 
has yet witnessed ; that they have done this by the adoption of a 
single, true and noble principle of conduct, and by patient and per 
severing fidelity to it; that they thus overcame a demoralizing 
political and social reaction, and gave a new and powerful impulse 
to human progress; that tyranny is deceitful, and mankind are 
credulous, and that therefore political compromises are more danger 
ous to liberty than open usurpations ; that the Puritan principle, 
which was so sublime and so effective, was nothing else than the 
truth, that men retain in every state all the natural rights which are 
essential to the performance of personal, social and religious duties ; 
that the principle includes the absolute equality of till men, and 
therefore tends to a complete development in pure republican sys- 


terns ; that it has already modified the institutions of Europe, while 
it has brought into existence republican systems, more or less perfect 
throughout the American continent, and is fixing and shaping such 
institutions wherever civilization is found ; that hindrances, delays 
and reactions of political progress are nevertheless unavoidable, but 
that they also have corresponding benefits ; that it is our duty to 
labor to advance that progress, chiefly by faith, constancy and 
perseverance virtues which can only be acquired by self-renuncia 
tion, and by yielding to the motives of the fear of God and the 
love of mankind. 

Come forward, then, ye nations, states and races rude, savage, 
oppressed and despised enslaved or mutually warring among 
yourselves, as ye are upon whom the morning star of civilization 
hath either not yet dawned or hath only dimly broken amid clouds 
and storms, and receive the assurance that its shining shall yet be 
complete, and its light be poured down on all alike. Keceive our 
pledges that we will wait and watch and strive for the fullness of 
that light, by the exercise of faith, with patience and perseverance. 
And ye reverend men, whose precious dust is beneath our unworthy 
feet, pilgrims and sojourners in this vale of tears no longer, but 
kings and princes now at the right hand of the throne of the God 
you served so faithfully when on the earth gather yourselves, 
immortal and awful shades, around us, and witness, not the useless 
honors we pay to your memories, but our resolves of fidelity to 
truth, duty and freedom, which arise out of the contemplation of 
the beneficent operation of your own great principle of conduct, and 
the ever-widening influence of your holy teachings and Godlike 

After the preceding oration had been pronounced the company 
sat down to a public dinner, 1 at which the following toast was pro 
posed : 

The Orator of the Day Eloquent in his tribute to the virtues of the Pilgrims ; faithful, in his 
life, to the lessons they taught. 

Mr. Seward spoke in response substantially as follows : 

LADIES AND G-ENTLEMEN: The Puritans were Protestants, but they were not 
protestants against everybody and everything:, right or wrong. They did not 
protest indiscriminately against everything they found in England. On the 

1 See Memoir, ante page 36. 


other hand, as we have abundant indications in the works of genius and art 
which they left behind them, they had a reverence for all that is good and true 
while they protested against everything that was false and vicious. They had a 
reverence for the good taste and the literature, science, eloquence and poetry of 
England, and so I trust it is with their successors in this once bleak and inhospi 
table, but now rich and prosperous land. They could appreciate poetry, as well 
as good sense and good taste, and so I call to your recollection the language of a 
poet, who had not loomed up at the time of the Puritans as he has since. It was 
addressed to his steed, after an ill-starred journey from London to Islington town. 
The poet said : 

" Twas for your pleasure you came here, 
You shall go back for mine." 

Being a candid and frank man, as one ought to be who addresses the descend 
ants of the Puritans, I may say that it was not at all for your pleasure that I came 
here. Though I may go back to gratify you. yet I came here for my own pur 
poses. The time has. passed away when I could make a distant journey from a 
mild climate to a cold, though fair region, without inconvenience ; but there was 
one wish, I might almost say there was only one wish of my heart that I was 
anxious should be gratified. I had been favored with many occasions to see the 
seats of empire in this western world, and had never omitted occasions to see 
where the seats of empire were planted, and how they prospered. I had visited 
the capital of my own and of many other American states. I had regarded with 
admiration the capital of this great republic, in whose destinies, in common with 
you all, I feel an interest which can never die. I had seen the capitals of the 
British empire, and of many foreign empires, and had endeavored to study for 
myself the principles which have prevailed in the foundation of states and 
empires. With that view I had beheld a city standing where a migration from 
the Netherlands planted an empire on the bay of New York, at Manhattan, or 
perhaps more properly at Fort Orange. They sought to plant a commercial 
empire, and they did not fail ; but in New York now, although they celebrate the 
memories and virtues of fatherland, there is no day dedicated to the colonization 
of New York by the original settlers, the immigrants from Holland. I have 
visited Wilmington, on Christina creek, in Delaware, where a colony was 
planted by the Swedes, about the time of the settlement of Plymouth, and 
though the old church built by the colonists still stands there, I learned that there 
did not remain in the whole state a family capable of speaking the language, or 
conscious of bearing the name of one of the thirty-one original colonists. 

I have stood on the spot where a treaty was made by William Penn with the 
aborigines of Pennsylvania, where a seat of empire was estaolished by him, and 
although the statue of the good man stands in public places, and his memory 
remains in the minds of men, yet there is no day set apart for the recollection of 
the time and occasion when civil and religious liberty, were planted in that state. 
I went still further south, and descending the James river, sought the first colony 
of Virginia at Jamestown. There remains nothing but the broken, ruined tower 
of a poor church built of brick, in which Pocahontas was married, and over the 
ruins of which the ivy now creeps. Not a human being, bond or free, is to be 
soen within the circumference of a mile from the spot, nor a town or city as 
numerously populated as Plymouth, on the whole shores of the broad, beautiful, 


majestic river, between Richmond at the head, and Norfolk, where arms and the 
government have established fortifications. Nowhere else in America, then, was 
there left a remembrance by the descendants of the founders of colonies, of the 
virtues, the sufferings, the bravery, the fidelity to truth and freedom of their 
ancestors; and more painful still, nowhere in Europe can be found an acknowledg 
ment or even a memory of these colonists. In Holland, in Spain, in Great 
Britain, in France, nowhere is there to be found any remembrance of the men 
they sent out to plant liberty on this continent. So on the way to the Mississippi, 
I saw where De Soto planted the standard of Spain, and in imagination at least, 
I followed the march of Cortez in Mexico, and Pizarro in Peru ; but their memory 
has gone out. Civil liberty perishes, and religious liberty was never known in 
South America, nor does Spain, any more than other lands, retain the memory 
of the apostles she sent out to convert the new world to a purer faith, and raise 
the hopes of mankind for the well being of the future. 

There was one only place, where a company of outcasts, men despised, con 
temned, reproached as malcontents, and fanatics, had planted a colony, and that 
colony had grown and flourished ; and there had never been a day since it was 
planted, that the very town, and shore and coast, where it was planted had not 
grown and spread in population, wealth, prosperity and happiness, richer and 
stronger continually. It had not only grown and flourished like a vigorous tree, 
rejoicing in its own strength, but had sent out offshoots in all directions. Every 
where the descendants of these colonists were found engaged in the struggles for 
civil and religious liberty, and the rights of man. I had found them by my side, 
the champions of humanity, upon whose stalwart arms I might safely rely. 

I came here, then, because the occasion offered, and if I pretermitted this, it 
might be the last, and I was unwilling that any friend or any child, who might 
lean upon me, who reckoned upon my counsel or advice, should know that I had 
been such a truant to the cause of religious liberty and humanity, as never to have 
seen the Rock of Plymouth. 

My mission being now accomplished, having shed tears in the first church of 
the Puritans, when the heartfelt benediction was pronounced over my unworthy 
head by that venerable pastor, I have only to ask that I be dismissed from further 
service with your kind wishes. I will hold the occasion ever dear to my remem 
brance, for it is here I have found the solution of the great political problem. 
Like Archimedes, I have found the fulcrum by whose aid I may move the world 
the moral world and that fulcrum is Plymouth Rock. 


DE WITT CLINTON, son of James Clinton and Mary De Witt, was 
born at Little Britain, New Windsor, Orange county, in the colony 
of New York, on the second day of March, 1769. His descent on 
the father s side was from English ancestors long domiciled in Ireland, 
and on the mother s side was of French extraction, through a sojourn 
of the family of some duration in Holland. While yet young, he 
intermarried with Maria Franklin, who brought him a liberal fortune, 
and who died in 1818. In the succeeding year he was married, to 
Catharine Jones, who survived him. He had a commanding stature, 
highly intellectual features, and a graceful form, set off with severe 
arid dignified manners. He combined, in a rare degree, vigor, versa 
tility and comprehensiveness of mind with untiring perseverance in 
the exercise of a lofty and unconcealed ambition. His ancestors, so 
far as they are known to us, were brave, cultivated and enterprising 
men. His father, General James Clinton, and his uncle, Governor 
George Clinton, mingled in their respective characters the opposite 
elements of civil conduct and military command, and throughout 
the American Eevolution the latter was the chief popular figure 
of the state of New York. De Witt Clinton s education, begun in 
a grammar school near his home, continued at the academy in 
Kingston, Ulster county, and completed at Columbia College, in the 
city of New York, was conducted with great care by very learned 
preceptors. He bore away the college honors in 1786, and immedi 
ately engaged in the study of the law under the instruction of Samuel 
Jones in the city of New York. He was admitted to the bar in 
1788. Political affairs at that time absorbed the public attention. 
The city of New York, a second rate mercantile and practically a 
provincial town, already felt, though it did not understand, the social 
impulses which were to push it forward so soon to become the cap 
ital city of America. The state of New York, a third rate political 

1 A portion of this biography appears in the New American Cyclopedia. 


power, with a population confined to the shores of its few and short 
navigable rivers, undistinguished by either culture or enterprise, and 
embarrassed by African slavery, was undergoing the necessary 
preparation for that struggle with the moral and physical resistances 
which was at no distant day to be crowned with its inauguration as 
the leading state in the new Federal Union. The United States 
had achieved legal independence of Great Britain, and were per 
plexed with the responsibility of adopting an untried and purely 
experimental structure of government under which to contest by legis 
lation, by diplomacy, and even by war, for that real commercial inde 
pendence and that practical political independence which the European 
states pertinaciously refused to them. Until that time the several 
states had been supreme, and their statesmen had exercised control, 
while the confederation was subordinate and its agents powerless. 
Centralization was now to begin, and ultimately was to reverse these 
relations. The new federal government was to enter the states, 
modifying the action of the respective forces, and they were to 
struggle as they might for the maintenance and preservation of re 
served rights of sovereignty which were indispensable. The equality 
and sovereignty of the people were now newly and practically estab 
lished, and the arena of public service open to all competitors. George 
Clinton differed from Hamilton, Jay and Schuyler concerning the 
merits of the federal constitution, and gave to its adoption only a 
reluctant and distrustful support. The temper of the time was un 
charitable. His confessed integrity, heroic services and practical 
wisdom, were held by the friends of the new system insufficient to 
excuse this error, nor could he on his part accord his confidence to 
those of his compatriots who he thought were rashly subverting 
necessary foundations of public liberty. Holding the office of gov 
ernor, which then was a station of the greatest dignity and influence, 
he became at once the head of the republican or anti-federal party 
within the state, and was immediately engaged in a contest which 
involved all the stakes of a generous and noble ambition. Numbers 
were on his side, but talents and the influences which favored the 
new federal government were against him. De Witt Clinton s ardent 
temper and earnest ambition carried him at once into the political 
field, and his sentiments, sympathies and affections determined his 
position under the banner of his kinsman, the chief within the state 
of the republican party. While the question of the adoption of the 


federal constitution was yet a subject of popular discussion, he 
proved his zeal and controversial power by writing a series of let 
ters signed "A Countryman," in reply to the celebrated letters of 
the "Federalist." He attended the state convention which adopted 
the constitution and reported its interesting debates for the press, 
and forsaking his profession at once and forever, he became the pri 
vate secretary of George Clinton, the governor of New York. In 
this position he maintained the cause of his kinsman, and that of 
the republic, by such a vigorous use of the press that he immedi 
ately came to be regarded as its leading and most prominent champion. 
Thus early, he established that character of a partisan politician 
which he maintained ever afterward. But the official position which 
he held, though humble, afforded him an opportunity to devote 
himself to measures and policies important to the public safety and 
welfare, and the spirit with which he engaged in duties of that kind 
procured for him two other appointments, one of secretary of the 
newly organized board of regents of the university, and the other 
of secretary of the board of commissioners of fortifications of the 
state. So it happened, that he laid in the beginning of his public 
life the foundations of that superstructure of useful service which 
constitutes the enduring monument of his fame. 

George Clinton was continued in the office of governor by repeated 
elections; but the federal party continually gained ground, and in 
1792 a decided majority of votes were cast for John Jay, its candi 
date for that office. The returns, however, were held defective in 
form, and the credentials were given once more to George Clin 
ton. It was manifest, in 1795, that the federalists must prevail. 
George Clinton voluntarily retired, and Mr. Jay was chosen his 
successor. De Witt Clinton relinquished his offices, but did not 
relax his championship of the republican cause, in opposition to 
the administration of Mr. Jay in the state, and to the administration 
of John Adams at Washington. His opponents insisted then, as 
they did ever afterward, that he conducted political controversies 
with rancor and bitterness. Doubtlessly his language was often vehe 
ment and criminatory, and an aggressive personality marks his 
papers, which, if used at this day, would be universally condemned, 
and would detract from an otherwise just effect. But Junius was the 
model adopted by nearly all political writers at that period, and 
scarcely any controversy was conducted, on either political or eccle 


siastical questions, without the mutual use of unsparing invectives. 
We can, therefore, judge but very imperfectly of the relative 
demerits of Mr. Clinton in this respect. With all his vehemence of 
partizan feelings, however, he nevertheless adhered to the line of patri 
otic conduct he had so early marked out for himself. Thus, while 
assailing the administration of Mr. Adams and the federalists for 
their alleged hostility toward France, he raised, equipped, commanded 
and disciplined an artillery company, which was held in readiness 
for the defense of the country in the event of the occurrence of war 
then so generally anticipated. Besides these occupations, he applied 
himself diligently to the studies of natural philosophy, natural 
history and other sciences. His adversaries were accustomed, then 
and afterward, to disparage his acquisitions as superficial and pre 
tentious ; but a candid examination of his writings will induce us to 
concede, what then was claimed by his friends, that his proficiency 
was such as to qualify him for the chair of a professor in many 
departments of academic knowledge. Truly learned men always 
cheerfully conceded to him distinguished merit. 

The republican party grew rapidly in the state and in the country, 
under the embarrassed and unpopular administration of John Adams. 
Mr. Clinton was sent to the assembly, the lower house of the legis 
lature of New York, by the city of New York, in 1797, and in the 
next year he was chosen by the electors of the southern district to 
represent them in the senate of the state for a term of four years. 
The republican party triumphing in the Union in 1800, carried also 
a majority in the state of New York, although John Jay still 
remained in office. Official patronage in the state was by its first 
constitution committed to the governor, together with a council con 
sisting of one senator from each district, chosen by a vote of the 
house of assembly. The governor presided in the council, and 
habitually exercised exclusively the right of nomination, leaving 
only to the council the power to confirm or reject. During the 
administration of Greorge Clinton, his opponents, when in a majority 
in the council, had claimed for each member a right of nomination 
coordinate with that of the governor ; but the pretension was dis 
allowed by governor Clinton, and the original practice remained. De 
Witt Clinton, in 1801, became a member of the council, backed by 
a republican majority. He now challenged the right of nomination 
for himself and his associates. The governor denied it, and 

VOL. IV. 27 


adjourned the council, and never afterward reconvened it. He 
submitted the subject to the legislature, and appealed to that body 
for a declaratory law. Mr. Clinton vigorously defended the position 
assumed by him in the council. The legislature referred the matter 
to a convention of the people. The republican party predominated 
in that body, and the constitution was amended so as to effect the 
object at which Mr. Clinton had aimed. It can hardly be denied 
that on the question of construction of the constitution, as it origi 
nally stood, the position of Mr. Clinton was untenable. Experience 
proved that the innovation was unwise. The spirit of party had 
now become intense, it must be believed, in charity to both parties, 
that each sincerely, though erroneously, doubted the loyalty of the 
other to institutions yet new, and to a form of government the ulti 
mate stability of which was still deemed uncertain. Proscription 
was a natural result of this diseased condition of the public mind. 
It broke forth suddenly, and became violent and undiscriminating. 
Thenceforth every change of public opinion in the state was followed 
by removal of all public officers not protected by the constitution 
and laws. The temper of political debate became more than ever 
acrimonious. Cupidity and ambition became bold and exacting, 
Parties divided into personal factions, and then again centered into 
new and disquieting forms of recombination. It was then that the 
names of factions and parties became confused and unmeaning ; the 
politics of the state became a mystery to observers beyond its limits, 
and acquired proverbially the characteristics of intrigue and violence. 
Perhaps it is true that De Witt Clinton was justly responsible, in 
a considerable degree, for the inauguration of this reign of license, as 
his opponents always contended. But, if we judge the parties and 
the men of that day by the test of general principles, or even if we 
allow them the consideration of the characters which they ultimately 
maintained, we must conclude that the faults and errors which thus 
brought reproach upon them all was found exclusively on the side 
of no individual, nor of any one party or faction, but were, in some 
sense, incidents of the times and of a peculiar stage of republican 
society. However this may be, it is certain that Mr. Clinton, at 
the same time, acted, well and nobly, a higher and more patriotic 
part, aside from the partisan transactions in which he was thus en 
gaged. It was a season of apprehended invasion. He was active 
and efficient in securing the means of public defense. The public 


health was continually threatened by the approach of contagious 
pestilence. He was unremitting and judicious in providing the 
necessary sanitary laws and institutions. He urged improvements 
of the laws favorable to agriculture, manufactures, and the arts; 
labored to stimulate the great and finally successful efforts of the 
time to bring steam into use as an agent of navigation ; and employed 
all his talents and influence in meliorating the evils of imprisonment 
for debt, and in abolishing slavery. At the very early age of thirty- 
three, his term of brilliant service in the senate of the state was 
crowned by his appointment to a seat in the senate of the United 
States. He remained in that body throughout two of its annual 
sessions. The period, though short, sufficed to enable him to impress 
upon the country a conviction of his great ability, and to augment 
as well as enlarge the sphere of his already eminent reputation. His 
principal achievement there was an elaborate, exhaustive and im 
pressive speech in favor of moderation on the occasion of a high 
popular excitement against Spain, resulting from her violation of 
treaty stipulations for commercial privileges to the citizens of the 
United States on the banks of the Mississippi the territory of Lou 
isiana not yet having been acquired by the United States. 

Mr. Clinton resigned his place in the senate of the United States, to 
assume the office of mayor of the city of New York, under an appoint 
ment made by George Clinton and a republican council of appoint 
ment in 1803 that distinguished man having now again been elevated 
to the office of governor of the state. The mayoralty was attractive 
to Mr. Clinton, because, under the charter of the city, the powers and 
duties belonging to it were manifold ; its responsibilities, in that period 
of perplexity in the foreign relations of the country, were great, its 
patronage not inconsiderable, and its emoluments large. Nor is it to be 
doubted that, in the confused condition of the domestic politics of the 
state, when rivalries, dangerous to his distinguished kinsman and him 
self, were manifesting themselves in many ways, it was thought impor 
tant that he should be at home to defend and protect personal interests 
thus exposed. Nevertheless, it was a misfortune to Mr. Clinton to 
break up a relation so grave as that of a senator in congress to his 
constituency, so suddenly, and upon considerations of personal advan 
tage. Nor can it be doubted now, that, having regard to merely indi 
vidual interests, the change thus made, from the higher and more 
distant national theatre to the lower and nearer municipal one, filled 


as it was with angry and jealous contentions, was a great error. He 
held the mayoralty by the precarious tenure of appointment, liable 
to removal with every revolution of the political wheel within the 
state. He remained undisturbed in it from 1803 until 1807, when 
he was removed. He was reappointed in 1809 ; was displaced 
in 1810; was restored in 1811 ; and thenceforward continued 
therein until 1815. Within this period of nearly twelve years, 
Mr. Ciinton was also a member of the senate of the state from 1805 
until 1811, and was lieutenant-governor from 1811 to 1813, and du 
ring a portion of that time also held a seat in the council of appoint 
ment. These changes of office worked no change in his character, 
and were attended by no divergence on his part from his line of 
conduct already sharply defined. 

George Clinton, who had been known as an aspirant to the presi 
dency for many years, was elected vice-president of the United States 
in 1804, and soon thereafter, by reason of his advanced years, ceased 
to be conspicuous. De Witt Clinton, by an easy transition, rose to 
the same eminent consideration which his kinsman had held, and 
came to be regarded as the foremost candidate of the republican 
party within the state of New York for the office which bounds the 
range of ambition in our country. Not at all abating either his per 
sonal activity or his prescriptive severity toward others, he encoun 
tered at their hands hostility and retaliation, fierce, violent and 
apparently relentless. A dangerous rival disappeared when Aaron 
Burr sank under the suspicion of intrigues against Mr. Jefferson in 
the election of 1800, and the reproaches of malice aforethought in 
the duel in which the honored Hamilton had fallen by his hand in 
1804; but Mr. Clinton was successively brought into an attitude of 
distrust toward Lewis and Tompkins, the successors of George Clin 
ton in the office of governor. He was all the time obnoxious to the 
federal administration at Washington, because first the ambition of 
his uncle, George Clinton, and then his own, were inconvenient to 
the Virginia presidents, Jefferson and Madison, He, however, hesi 
tated at first, and probably on considerations of a public nature, to 
approve the system of commercial restrictions adopted by the former, 
as he questioned, perhaps not unjustly, the wisdom of the course of 
the latter in the trying hour which preceded the declaration of war 
against Great Britain, while no real provision had as yet been made 
for the public defense, much less any adequate means prepared for 


aggression. It is beyond all doubt now, that Mr. Clinton was emi 
nently brave, and that he loved his country with a devotion that 
knew no hesitation when her safety or welfare required sacrifice at 
his hands. Indeed, in every period of anxiety, and at every stage 
of the long controversy between the United States and the great 
powers of western Europe, he was vigorous, untiring and bold, and 
having due regard to the opportunities for efficiency which his 
position afforded, he was as effective as any other patriot in the pub 
lic service. But there was at that time a portion of the federal party 
which condemned the measures of the government so severely that 
their own loyalty to the country was not unnaturally questioned, and 
their conduct, whatever was their motive, had a tendency to encou 
rage the public enemy, and so to embarrass the administration in a 
crisis when it had a right to demand the energetic support of all 
parties. This misconduct brought suspicion on the whole federal 
party, although, as a mass, it was loyal and patriotic, and it suited 
the purposes of Mr. Clinton s opponents to impute his hesitation and 
reserve manifested on the occasions which have been mentioned, to 
the influence of sympathies with the misguided federalists, which were 
forbidden equally by his relations to the republican party and a just 
sense of the real danger of the country. Day by day, therefore, old re 
publican associates and followers separated from him, and intheirplaces 
federalists, who saw that there was no longer any hope of effectually 
serving their country under their own dilapidated organization, and 
who believed him as patriotic as the statesmen who were in power, 
and much wiser than they, lent him indirectly their sympathy 
and cautious support. It was in this unlucky conjuncture that Mr. 
Clinton, whose aspirations to the presidency of the United States 
had long been known, concluded that the time had arrived when 
they ought to be and could be realized. Mr. Madison s first term 
was to expire in 1813, and his successor was to be elected in 1812. 
The republican caucus at Washington, which then was the recog 
nized nominating body, disallowed Mr. Clinton s pretensions, and 
renominated Mr. Madison. Mr. Clinton still retained the confidence 
of the republican party in his own state as an organized political 
force, though it was sadly demoralized. He received a nomination 
at the hands of the republican members of the legislature. The 
federalists made no nomination, and indirectly gave him their support. 
He received eighty-nine electoral votes, while Mr. Madison took one 


hundred and twenty-eight votes, and thus was reflected. This de 
feat was disastrous to Mr. Clinton. The war which, pending the 
canvass, had been declared against Great Britain, was deemed a repub 
lican measure, and its successful issue was of vital importance to 
the country. Mr. Clinton s attitude was regarded as that of an oppo 
nent of the war policy, and of course as a sympathizer with the 
public enemy. The republican party of the state of New York 
shrunk from his side, and at the first opportunity, in 1813, displaced 
him from his office of lieutenant-governor, leaving him only the may 
oralty of the city of New York, and even this relatively inferior posi 
tion was soon afterward to be taken away. He seemed not only to 
have been convicted of betraying his own party when holding a 
high command in it, to its adversary, in a crisis when its safety was 
identified with that of the country for his own advantage, but also of 
being unsuccessful in the treason. But in fact Mr. Clinton had changed 
not his principles, policies or sympathies, but only his personal rela 
tions. He had attempted to gain the presidency, not to overthrow the 
republican party, but to reestablish it as he thought on a better 
foundation ; not to favor the public enemy, but to prosecute the war 
against him, as he thought, with greater vigor and effect ; not to 
betray his country, but to make assurance of her safety doubly sure. 
He had erred in judgment, and the result was a complexity of 
relations that seemed to render all further ambition hopeless. He 
was a republican disowned by his party ; and though not a federal 
ist, he was held responsible for all the offenses imputed to them, 
without having their confidence, or even enjoying their sympa 
thy. His fall seemed irretrievable. Nevertheless, Mr. Clinton had 
been fortunate during the period which we have been reviewing, 
in laying broad and deep the foundations of a popularity that r 
at no distant day, might be made to maintain a personal party, which 
would long perplex and often confound the adversaries who now 
exulted over what was thought his final ruin. 

The city of New York had now begun to feel the beneficial in 
fluence of the centralization of commerce at its wharves, under the 
operation of the federal constitution, and public spirit was pro 
foundly awakened. The deficiencies of its municipal laws, of its 
defenses, of its scientific and literary institutions, of its institutions 
of arts, and the absence of most of the elements of a metropolitan 
character, were generally felt and confessed. Enlightened, liberal 


and active men were moving in a hundred ways to make the city 
worthy of its high, but newly discovered destiny. Only some high, 
genial and comprehensive mind was wanted to give steadiness and 
direction to these noble movements. De Witt Clinton supplied this 
want. He associated himself on equal terms with other citizens 
who engaged in the establishment of schools, designed to afford the 
advantages of universal primary education ; with others who founded 
institutions for the study of history, for improvement in art, for 
melioration of criminal laws, for the encouragement of agriculture, 
for the establishment of manufactures, for the relief of all the forms 
of suffering so fearfully developed in a state of high civilization, for 
the correction of vice, for the improvement of morals, and for the 
advancement of religion. In all these associations he subjugated 
his ambition, and seemed not a leader but a follower of those who 
by their exclusive devotion were entitled to precedence. They de 
rived from him, however, not only liberal contributions by his pen, 
by his speech and from his purse ; but also the aids of his already 
wide and potential influence, and the sanctions of his official station 
and character. He carried the same liberal and humane spirit into 
his administration as chief magistrate of the city. By virtue of that 
office, he was not only the head of the police, charged with the 
responsibilities of preserving order and guarding the city from ex 
ternal dangers, but he was at once a member and president of the 
municipal council, a member and president of the board of health, 
a member and president of the court of common pleas, and a mem 
ber and president of the criminal court. He appeared in all these 
various characters always firm, dignified, intelligent and prepared in 
every exigency, the friend of the poor, the defender of the exile, 
the guardian of the public health, the scourge of disorder, the aven 
ger of crime, the advocate of civil and religious liberty, and the 
patron of knowledge and virtue. As a member of the senate of 
the state and lieutenant-governor he exercised the functions not only 
of a legislator, but also of a judge of the court of dernier resort, and 
amid all the intrigues and distractions of party he bore himself in 
those high places with the dignity and exercised the spirit of a 
sagacious, far-seeing, and benevolent statesman. 

He not only favored,. but led in correcting abuses, reforming errors, 
simplifying and meliorating laws, laying the foundation of univer 
sal education, and of enduring systems of public charity, and 


removing as fast as possible the yet lingering remains of slavery. 
Especially, he corrected the popular prejudice against himself in re 
gard to his loyalty, by the utmost liberality and efficiency both as 
mayor and legislator, in securing adequate means for public defense, 
by procuring loans to the government, by voting supplies of mate 
rials and men, and by soliciting the military command to which his 
admitted courage, talent and influence seemed to entitle him. But 
beyond all this he adopted early and supported ably and efficiently 
the policy of the construction of canals from lake Erie and lake 
Champlain to the tide water of the Hudson, and showed to his fellow 
citizens, with what seemed a spirit of prophecy, the benefits which 
would result from those works to the city, the state and the whole 
country in regard to defence, to commerce, to increase of wealth and 
population and to the stability of the Union. He was so successful 
in this that he. was deputed, with others, in the year 1812, by the 
legislature of the state, to submit that great project to the federal 
government at Washington, and solicit its adoption or patronage of 
the policy as a national measure. That government, happily for the 
state, and fortunately for him, declined, and the occurrence of the 
war of 1812, with its dangers and exactions, put the subject to rest 
to be revived at a more propitious season. The intellectual vigor, 
the impartial spirit, and the energetic resolution which Mr. Clinton 
displayed in these various duties awakened profound and general 
admiration, while the manifest beneficence of his system excited 
enthusiastic desires for material and moral progress throughout the 
state. He had thus become identified, even in the darkest hour of 
his political day, with the hopes and ambition of his native state, and 
with the hopes and ambitions of all the other states which waited to 
be benefited directly by her movement, or to emulate her example. 
He had thus won a fame which extended beyond this state, through 
out other states, and even reached foreign lands. While sinking out 
of view as a political character, not only in the Union, but even in 
the state of New York, De Witt Clinton, the private citizen, was 
more honored than the chief magistrate of the city ; De Witt Clinton, 
the mayor of New York, eclipsed the chief magistrate of the state ; 
and De Witt Clinton, the state senator, filled a space in the public 
respect which the chief magistrate of the United States might well 
envy. By a system chosen and perfected by himself and exclusively 
his own, he had gained a moral position similar to and equal to that 


which Hamilton had won before him when the tide of popular favor 
having deserted him and left him destitute of power and influence 
he still stood forth an isolated figure on the canvass, attracting an 
admiration and exciting an interest which his successful rivals feared 
to contemplate. But it was not for Mr. Clinton to reascend the 
political ladder until he had released his hold on the lowest step and 
had once more touched the ground. His opponents made haste to 
dislodge him from that last foothold. In January, 1815, he was 
removed from the mayoralty by a council of appointment in the 
interest of the republican party. 

Fortune had gone with greatness, and he sunk into private life 
without even the means of respectable subsistence. The severity of 
this proscription, coupled with the greatness of his fall and the ma 
jesty of his character, awakened regrets and sympathies among large 
classes, who did not stop to consider how rashly he had tempted for 
tune, or how ruthlessly he had wielded the ax against those who 
had now precipitated him to the ground. Peace had now returned, 
and, with it, the aspirations for civil progress which war had for a 
short time suppressed. In the autumn of that year, and in the ob 
scurity of a retreat to the country, he prepared an argument in favor 
of the immediate construction of the Erie and Champlain canals 
demonstrating their feasibility, the ability of the state to construct 
them, their certain reimbursement of the cost, their utility and indis- 
pensableness as means of natural defense, and their efficiency in open 
ing the western portions of the state to civilization and culture, and 
containing a glowing but just exposition of the impulse they would 
give to the growth of the city of New York and to the aggrandizement 
of the state, as well as the advantages which that immense extension of 
the internal navigation of the country would confer on the whole 
nation, by leading to a development of its yet unproductive resources, 
and by cementing the bonds of the American Union. Never has there 
appeared, in this or perhaps any other country, a state paper, at once 
so vigorous, so genial, so comprehensive, and so conclusive. It was 
couched in the form of a memorial from the citizens of New York 
to the legislature of the state, and was deferentially submitted to a 
public meeting for their adoption. As yet, nations and communities, 
by the action of the people, had only sought aggrandizement by wars 
and conquests. The people of this country had had some experience 
of this svstem of aggrandizement, and were heartily tired of it. But 

VOL. IV. 28 


the enterprise of material improvement was new to them, and full 
of benignant promise. If dangers attended it, they were unforeseen 
and unconceived. The stroke was electrical. The city adopted the 
memorial, and appealed to the citizens of the interior portions of the 
state. They responded with enthusiasm. Other states and territo 
ries, expecting either direct benefit, or waiting only to follow the lead 
of a power so respectable as New York in similar enterprises, lent 
their approving and encouraging voices. The policy was, from that 
moment, certain of success. It was hindered only by the political 
prejudices which hung around its advocate. His opponents called 
these prejudices into new activity. With short-sighted malice, they 
affected to consider the attractive scheme as not merely a new resort 
of a ruined politician, but as one original with and devised by him 
self impracticable, absurd, and visionary although, for more than 
a hundred years, sagacious and enlightened statesmen, connected with 
che affairs of the colony and of the state of New York, had, with 
various degrees of distinctness, indicated and commended the obnox 
ious policy, and the state itself had, at an early day, made demonstra 
tions toward its adoption ~by improving some parts of its natural 
channels, and had recommended the whole enterprise, before the war, 
to the adoption of the federal government. Mr. Clinton, if left to 
designate for his adversaries their mode of opposition, could have 
preferred no other. It presented him as not merelv the advocate, 
but even the inventor of the system whose prospective benefits were 
already triumphantly demonstrated. His personality thus stamped 
upon it, he must necessarily rise with it into popular favor. Mr. 
Clinton appeared at Albany, at the assembling of the legislature, to 
commend it. The governor the organ of the republican party 
was silent on the subject. The republican legislature rendered it 
just enough of favor to encourage and strengthen Mr. Clinton, and 
too little to make it their own and separate him as a necessary agent 
from it. It appointed him, with others, a commissioner to make the 
required surveys and estimates, solicit grants and donations, and 
report at the next session. 

A vacancy in the office of governor was now to occur by the 
transfer of the esteemed and popular Tompkins, the chief republican 
character in the state, to the post of vice-president of the United 
States at Washington. Who could deny that Mr. Clinton s election 
to the office of governor would further the adoption of his great 


scheme of improvements ? Who could deny his claim to that posi 
tion for the purpose of securing its adoption and conducting its pro 
secution? Who could deny even that his advancement to that 
position was absolutely essential to the success of the measure? 
When the only popular favorite was relinquishing the office and there 
was no other statesman indicated by any general preference for it, why 
should it be denied, under the exigent circumstances already men 
tioned, to Mr. Clinton ? Spontaneous demonstrations presented him 
before the public as a candidate, the party machinery refused to 
work in the hands of his adversaries and he was elected in the sum 
mer of 1816, to the office of governor, practically by the unanimous 
voice of the people. It seemed, for a short time, as if all partisan 
organizations had been permanently broken up, and as if party 
spirit had been extinguished forever. Notwithstanding all these 
pleasing auguries, the period of his administration was filled up, like 
former ones, with violent and embittered political controversies, 
cherished and fomented by jealousies of parties connected with the 
federal administration at Washington. In all these controversies he 
was always the subject desire to advance him at last to the presi 
dency of the United States, irrespective of all existing combinations, 
constituting the motive of one party ; and determination to rebuke 
and punish what was called his unchastened ambition, the motive of 
the other. He triumphed in 1819, being reflected, though by a very 
small majority, over Daniel D. Tompkins, who, while yet vice-presi 
dent, became the opposing candidate and brought into the canvass a 
popularity never before overbalanced. His adversaries availed them 
selves of just complaints against the constitution to move the call of 
a convention for its amendment, and the measure was eminently 
popular. Mr. Clinton, perhaps unnecessarily, and at least unfortu- 
tunately, hesitated so long as to become identified with the opposition 
to it. The convention made reforms which diminished the power of 
the executive and judiciary and conceded an enlargement of the 
right of suffrage, with other popular rights, while it adopted his canal 
policy, which had already been auspiciously begun and might now 
be supposed sure to be carried on to a successful conclusion. Mr. 
Clinton wisely declined to be a candidate, under such circumstances, 
for a reelection as governor under the new constitution, and Joseph C. 
Yates was called to the office with a unanimity equal to that which 
had attended Mr. Clinton s elevation to the same place. Faction, 


however, disorganized the triumphant party in 1824. At the same 
time, the legislature in its interest abused its triumph over Mr. Clin 
ton by removing him without notice arid without cause from the now 
obscure office of canal commissioner in which he was serving, as he 
had served from the first, only as an adviser and without any com 
pensation. Indignation awakened by this injustice and combined 
with popular discontents, resulting from other causes, bore him at 
the end of the same year back into the office of governor by a very 
decided vote ; but the new combination which had secured this re 
sult was committed to the support of John Quincy Adams, as its 
head in the federal government, while Mr. Clinton s sympathies or 
his views of duty or of interest determined his inclination toward, 
first William H. Crawford, and then Andrew Jackson as candidates 
for the presidency. He was thus once more in his old position, sus 
tained by a party from whom he withheld his confidence and sym 
pathy, and opposed by the one to which he looked for ultimate sup 
port. He was barely reflected in 1826, while the legislature was 
opposed to his policy and interests. 

His administration of the state government, however, which con 
tinued throughout a period of twelve years, with the exception of 
an intervening period of two 3^ ears, was one of unequaled dignity 
and energy, devoted to just and necessary reforms and to the great 
enterprises of moral and social improvement. He had the good for 
tune to mature the system of finance which enabled the state, uncon 
scious of expense or care, to begin and carry out his policy of internal 
improvement, and to break with his own hand the ground in the 
beginning of the enterprise on the fourth of July, 1817 ; and overcom 
ing constant, unremitting and factious resistances, he had the felicity 
of being borne, in October, 1825, in a barge on the artificial river that 
he seemed, to all, to have constructed, from lake Erie to the bay of 
New York, while bells were rung and cannons saluted him at every 
stage of that imposing progress. No sooner had that great work 
been undertaken in 1817, than the population of the state began to 
swell with augmentation from other states and from abroad, pros 
perity became universal, old towns and cities expanded, new ones rose 
and multiplied. Agriculture, manufacture and commerce, the three 
great wheels of national industry, were quickened in their movement, 
and wealth flowed in upon the state from all directions. He inaugu 
rated the construction of branches of the Erie canal, by which it was 


ultimately connected with the internal lakes, with Lake Ontario and 
with the Susquehanna, the Allegany and the St. Lawrence rivers, 
and by his counsel and advice, now sought in all directions, he 
hastened the opening of those canals in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, 
Ohio, Indiana and Illinois, which in connection with those of New 
York and with natural channels now constitute a system adequate to 
the internal commerce of an empire, and is interrupted only by moun 
tains which defy the prowess of man. 

De Witt Clinton, witnessing the enjoyment of the continually en 
larging realization by the public of the benefits of his labors and in 
the midst of growing popular perplexities concerning the balanced 
probabilities of his yet rising to the highest honors of his country, 
or of his sinking once more and irretrievably beneath the heel of 
domestic faction, died at Albany, the seat of his authority and the 
chief theatre of his active life, on the llth day of February, 1828. 
Need it be added that party spirit was hushed into profound silence, 
that the legislature provided for his family, bereft as they were of 
parent and of fortune, that a grateful people celebrated his departure 
from the earth with all the pomp of national sorrow, and that pos 
terity, already advancing on the stage, hails his shade with the 
homage deserved by a benefactor of mankind. The course of human 
nature in similar cases and circumstances is always the same. 

NOTE. In 1839, and again in 1841, Governor Seward, in his annual messages to the legislature, 
recommended the erection of a monument, by the state, to the memory of De Witt Clinton, and 
at the same time paid an eloquent tribute to his character and distinguished public services. 
Mr. Seward s "Notes on New York," also, contain several allusions to Mr. Clinton in the his 
tory of the canals and other great enterprises of the state. See Volume II., pp. 87, 210, 296, &c. 






HAIL to the capital of New York ! Venerable for its antiquity, 
and yet distinguished for its loyalty to progress, liberty and union. 
This capital is dear to me. It has more than once sent me abroad 
with honorable functions, and even in those adverse seasons which 
have happened to me, as they must happen to all representative men, 
it has never failed to receive me at home again with sympathy and 
kindness. Doubly honored be the banner of the stars and stripes, 
which here takes on its highest significance, as it waves over the 
halls where equal representatives make the laws which regulate the 
lives of equal freemen. Honored be Justice, whose statue surmounts 
the dome above us ! Blind, that she may not, through either passion 
or prejudice, discriminate between the rich and the poor, the Pro 
testant and Catholic, the native born and the exotic, the freeman and 
him whose liberties have been cloven down, and weighing with 
exact balance the rights of all classes and all races of men. Old 
familiar echoes greet my ear from beneath these embowered roofs ! 
The voices of the Spencers, of Kent, and Van Kensselaer, and Van 
Vechten, of the genial Tompkins, of Clinton the great, and the elder 
Clinton, of King and Hamilton, of Jay, the pure and benevolent, 
and Schuyler, the gallant and inflexible. The very air that lingers 
around these arches, breathes inspirations of moral, social, of phy 
sical enterprise, and of unconquerable freedom. 

You, old, tried, familiar friends, ask my counsel whether to cling 
yet longe* 1 to traditional controversies and to dissolving parties, or 

VOL. IV. 29 



to rise at once to nobler aims, with new and more energetic associa 
tions ! I do not wonder at your suspense, nor do I censure caution 
or even timidity. Fickleness in political associations is a weakness, 
and precipitancy in public action is a crime. Considered by itself, 
it is unfortunate to be obliged to separate from an old party and to 
institute a new one. The new one may exhibit more enthusiasm for 
a time, but it must also for a time lack cohesion and discipline. The 
names of parties are generally arbitrary, and not at all indicative of 
their characters or purposes. A generous man will, nevertheless, 
cling, as if it were a family altar, to a name that has long been a 
rallying cry for himself and his compatriots. 

The great question before us, however, is to be decided, not by 
feeling, but under the counsels of reason and patriotism. It was the 
last injunction given by the last one of the revolutionary congresses 
to the American people, never to forget that the cause of America 
had always been, and that it must ever continue to be, the cause of 
human nature. The question then, is, what is the course dictated 
to us by our love of country and of humanity ? 

The nation was founded on the simple and practically new prin 
ciple of the equal and inalienable rights of all men, and therefore it 
necessarily became a republic.j Other governments, founded on the 
ancient principle of the inequality of men, are, by force of an equal 
necessity, monarchies or aristocracies. Whenever either of these 
kinds of government loses by lapse of time and change of circum 
stances its elementary principle, whether of equality or inequality, 
thenceforward it takes a rapid and irresistible course toward a reor 
ganization of the opposite kind. No one, here or elsewhere, is so 
disloyal to his country or to mankind, as to be willing to see our 
republican system fail. All agree that in every case, and through 
put alljiazards, _ aristocracy must fce abhorred ~ and avoided, and 
^republican institutions must be defended and preserved. 

Think it not strange"or extravagantwhen I say that an aristocracy 
has already arisen here, and that it is alreadyiindermimn^t 1 
republic. An^anSocracy co30T n n^tariseiri any country where 
there was no privileged class, and no special foundation on which 
such a class could permanently stand. On the contrary, every state, 
however republican its constitution may be, is sure to become an 
aristocracy, sooner or later, if it has a privileged class standing firmly 
on an enduring special foundation ; and if that class is continually 


growing stronger and stronger, and the unprivileged classes are con 
tinually growing weaker and weaker. It is not at all essential to a 
privileged class that it rest on feudal tenures, or on military com 
mand, or on ecclesiastical authority, or that its rights be hereditary, 
or even that it be distinguished by titles of honor. It may be even 
the more insidious and more dangerous for lacking all these things, 
because it will be less obnoxious to popular hostility. 

A privileged class has existed in this country from an early period 
of its settlement. Slaveholders constitute that class. _ They have a 
special foundation on which to stand namely, personal dominion 
over slaves. Conscience and sound policy forbid all men alike from 
holding slaves, but some citizens disregard the injunction. Some 
of the states enforce the inhibition ; other states neglect or refuse to 
enforce it. In all of the states there are but three hundred and fifty 
thousand citizens who avail themselves of this peculiar indulgence ; 
and those, protected by the laws of their states, constitute a privi 
leged class. They confess themselves to be such a class, when they 
designate the system of slavery as a "peculiar" institution. 

The spirit of the revolutionary age was adverse to that privileged 
class. America and Europe were firmly engaged then in prosecuting 
what was expected to be a speedy, complete and universal abolition 
of African slavery. Nearly all of the privileged class admitted that 
slavery, as a permanent system, was indefensible, and favored its 
removal. They asked only, what seemed by no means unreasonable, 
some securities against a sudden, rash and violent removal of the 
evil. Under these circumstances, even the most decided opponents 
of slavery consented to some provisions of the federal constitution 
which were inconsistent with the stern logic of equality that per 
vaded all its other parts, and pervaded the whole of the Declaration 
of American Independence, on which the constitution itself was 
based. We are not to censure the fathers for these concessions ; they 
had a union of the states to create, and to their ardent and generous 
minds the voluntary removal of slavery, by the action of the seve 
ral states themselves, without federal interference, seemed not only 
certain, but close at hand. 

These provisions of the constitution were : 

First: That the foreign slave trade should not be abolished before 


Second: That any law or regulation which any state might estab 
lish in favor of freedom, should not impair the legal remedy, then 
supposed to exist by common law, for the recapture, by legal pro 
cess, in such state, of fugitives from labor or service, escaping from 
other states. 

Third: That three-fifths of all slaves should be counted, in settling 
the basis of representation in the several states. 

These three concessions, which in themselves seem very limited 
and almost harmless, are all that the fathers consciously made to the 
privileged class. 

But privileged classes always know 


indirect advantages which jthe constitution or laws of a Country 
afford Such indirect advantages they acquired from two other 
provisions of the constitution: 1st. That provision which makes 
the state authority independent and sovereign in municipal affairs, 
slavery being understood to be purely municipal in its nature. 
2d. That provision which, out of tenderness to the small states, gives 
them a representation in the senate equal to that of the largest state. 
Freedom builds great states ; slavery multiplies small states, and 
even dwarfs great ones. 

Thus we see that the American slaveholders_are a privileged class, 
standing on a special and permanent foundation, and that they~afe 
protected in theirjjjl vantages fay; the organic laws. 

I might show a priori that a privileged class, thus established on 
an exceptional principle, that is wrong in itself and antagonistic to 
the fundamental principle of the government, must necessarily be 
dangerous, if it be suffered to expand and aggrandize itself. But 
unhappily, we are not left to the necessity of resorting to specula 
tion on that subject. The policy of emancipation was set back in 
this country during the reaction against revolutionary principles, 
which necessarily attended the reorganization of government ; and it 
was set back still more effectually by the consternation which fol 
lowed the disastrous failure of the first republic in France. The 
privileged class promptly seized the advantages which the constitu 
tion afforded, to fortify itself in the federal government. The last 
federal acts directed against the privileged class were, the abolition 
of the foreign slave trade after 1808, and the eternal prohibition of 
slavery in the broad and then unsettled region which extends from 
the north bank of the Ohio to the eastern shore of the Mississippi. 


Even the passage of that ordinance was, by its silence, assumed to 
imply a right on the part of the privileged class to colonize with 
slaves the region lying south of the Ohio and east of the Mississippi. 

Unlooked-for events have lent to the privileged class advantages 
which have more than counterbalanced the adverse effects of this 
early national legislation. The invention of the cotton-gm, which 
easily separates the seed from the fibre, has made "cotton an almost 
exclusive agricultural staple in the states of the privileged class, and 
an eminent commercial staple of the whole country. Jh P. national 
territory has necessarily hp^n enlarged!, from time to time, to accom 
modate an overgrowing population, and an ever-increasing commerce. 
Favored by these circumstances, the privileged class have at the 
same time found, in a home production of slaves in Maryland and 
Virginia, and other states, a compensation for the loss of the African 
slave trade ; and they have not been slothful in unlearning all the 
fears and dismissing all the timidity and conciliation which marked 
their conduct during and immediately after the revolutionary war. 
The admission of Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi and Alabama, as 
slaveholding states, into the Union, seemed unavoidable, inasmuch 
as they were the overgrowth of some of the old thirteen states ; and 
thus these new states south of the Ohio, balancing the growing free 
states north of that river, served as a sort of balance between the 
privileged and the unprivileged classes, which it was not necessary 
to disturb. This was the first final partition of the unsettled terri 
tory of the United States between those classes. 

In 1804, France ceded to the United States a broad belt, stretch 
ing along the western bank of the Mississippi, from the British pos 
sessions on the north, to the Spanish province of Texas on the south. 
This acquisition, which was equally necessary for the safety of the 
country and for the uses of commerce, stimulated the desire of the 
privileged class for an extension of their territory and an aggran 
dizement of their power. New Orleans, situated practically on the 
coast of the gulf of Mexico, was already at once an ancient slave- 
holding colony and an important commercial mart. It lay contigu 
ous to the slaveholding states. Under these circumstances, it was, 
without any resistance, soon organized and admitted into the Union, 
with its ancient laws and customs tolerating slavery. St. Louis, 
though destined to acquire great commercial importanoe, was as yet 
an inconsiderable town, with few slaveholders and slaves. The Mis- 


sissippi only divided it from the northwest territory, which was 
already consecrated to freedom. The best interests of the country 
required, and humanity demanded, that the ordinance of 1787 
should be extended across the Mississippi. The privileged class, 
however, took possession of the region around St. Louis, and made 
partial settlements lower down on the west bank of the Mississippi. 
St. Louis and its environs matured as a state in 1819, and demanded 
admission with slavery into the Union. Then, only thirty-two years 
after the passage of the ordinance of 1787, and after its unanimous 
ratification by the American people, the privileged class made cQJZir 
mon cause with the new slaveholding state, and, assuming a tone at 
once bold, insolent and menacing, they denied the power of con 
gress, although in the territories it was supreme and exclusive, and 
equally supreme and exclusive in the admission of new states, to 
legislate at all against their privileges in the territories, or to refuse 
admission to a new state, on the ground of its refusal to surrender 
or abate those privileges ; and they threatened in one loud voice to 
subvert the Union, if Missouri should be rejected. The privileged 
class were backed then by the Senate of the United States, as they 
have been backed on all similar occasions since that time. They 
were met, however, with firmness and decision by the unprivileged 
class in the house of representatives, and so Missouri failed then to- 
be admitted as a slave state. The privileged class resorted to a new 
form of strategy the strategy of compromise. They offered to be 
satisfied ii Missouri only should be admitted as a slave state, while 
Congress should prohibit slavery forever in all the residue of that 
part of the Louisiana purchase which lay north of the parallel of 
36 30 of north latitude the territory lying between this parallel 
and the province of Texas, and constituting what is now the state 
of Arkansas, being left by implication to slavery. This compromise 
was accepted, and thus diplomacy obtained for the privileged class 
immediate advantages, which had been denied to their clamor and 
passion. This compromise, however, could have only the authority 
of a repealable act of Congress, so far as the prohibition of slavery 
north of 36 30 was concerned. Wise and great men contrived 
extraordinary forms to bind the faith of the privileged class to that 
perpetual inhibition. They gave to the compromise the nature and 
form of a contract, with mutual equivalents between the privileged 
class and the unprivileged class, which it would be dishonorable and 


perfidious on the part of the privileged class, at any time, on any 
grounds, or under any circumstances, to annul or revoke, or even to 
draw in question. They proclaimed it to be a contract proper to be 
submitted to the people themselves, for their ratification, in the popu 
lar elections. It was so submitted to the people, and so ratified by 
them. By virtue of this compromise, Missouri came immediately 
into the Union as a slave state, and Arkansas followed soon afterward 
as a slave state, while, with the exception of Missouri, the compro 
mise of 1787, by virtue of the same compromise, was extended across 
the Mississippi, along the parallel of 36 30 , to the Eocky moun 
tains. Thus, and with such solemnities, was the strife of the privi 
leged class of slaveholders for aggrandizement of territory finally 
composed and forever settled. 

It is not my purpose to discuss the policy or the justice of that 
great settlement. As in the case of the constitution, the responsi 
bility for that great measure rests with a generation that has passed 
away. We have to deal with it only as a fact, and with the state of 
affairs that was established by it. 

The occupation of the new region west of the Mis^ipsip]-!, which 
had been thus saved for freedom, was artfully postponed indefinitely 
by dedicating it as a home for the concentrated but perishing Indian 
tribes. It sounds in favor of the humanity of the unprivileged class, 
if not of their prudence, that they neither remonstrated nor com 
plained of that dedication. 

The success of the privileged class, in securing to themselves 
immediate possession of Missouri and Arkansas, in exchange for the 
reversionary interest of the unprivileged class in the remainder of 
the Louisiana purchase, stimulated them to move for new national 
purchases of domain, which might yield them further acquisitions. 
Spain was unable to retain longer the slaveholding provinces of East 
Florida and West Florida, which lay adjacent to the slave states. 
They fell to the United States by an easy purchase, and the privi 
leged class with due diligence procured their organization as a state, 
and its admission into the Union. The spell of territorial aggran 
dizement had fallen on the United States of America, and simultane 
ously the spell of dissolution had fallen on the United States of 
Mexico. The privileged class on our side of the border entered 
Texas, established slavery there in violation of Mexican laws, de 
tached that territory from Mexico, and organized it as an indepen- 


dent sovereign state. Texas, thus independent and sovereign, sought 
annexation to the United States. In the very hour when the virtue 
of a sufficient number of the unprivileged classes was giving way 
to effect a constitutional annexation of Texas, the president of the 
United States, with a senate not less subservient to the privileged 
class, executed a coup d etat by which that state unlawfully, and in 
defiance of all precedent, came into the Union under a covenant 
stipulating that four new slave states might be created out of its 
territory and admitted as slave states, while, by a solemn mockery, 
an inconsiderable fragment that lay north of 36 P 30 was ostenta 
tiously dedicated to freedom. There remained no other new terri 
tory within the United States ; and so, by this strange partition of 
Texas, there was a third final settlement of the pretensions of the 
privileged class ; and it was acquiesced in by the unprivileged class, 
who thought themselves secure in the old northwest territory by the 
ordinance of 1787, and equally safe in Kansas and Nebraska by the 
JMissouri compromise. 

The public repose that followed the annexation of Texas was of 
short duration. Mexico resented that offense. A war ensued, and 
terminated in the transfer of the northern portion of Mexico to the 
United States. The Mexican municipal laws forbade slavery every 
where, and the new possessions were under that law. Not a whit 
the less, for that reason, did the privileged class demand either an 
equal partition, or that the whole should be opened to their coloni 
zation with slaves. The house of representatives resisted these 
pretensions, as it had resisted similar ones before ; but, the senate 
seconded the privileged class with its accustomed zeal. So congress 
was divided, and failed to organize civil governments for the newly 
acquired Mexican territories, and they were left under martial law. 
The question raised by the privileged class went down to the elec 
tors. The people promptly filled the house of representatives with 
a majority sternly opposed to the extension of slavery the breadth 
of a single square mile. They increased the force of the unprivileged 
class in the senate, while they called to the presidency General Tay 
lor, who, although himself a slaveholder, was committed to non-in 
tervention on the question in congress, and to execute faithfully 
whatever constitutional laws congress should adopt Under these 
circumstances, California and New Mexico, youthful communities, 
practically free from slavery, and uncorrupted by the seductions of 

f-T t * 



the privileged class or its political organs, hastened to establish con 
stitutions, and applj for admission as free states ; while the eccentric 
population of Deseret, indulging latitudinarian principles equally in 
matters of religion and of politics, prayed to be received into the 
Union as a state or as a territory, and with or without slavery, as 
congress should prescribe. The privileged class remonstrated, and a 
seditious movement was organized in their behalf in the slavehold- 
ing states, to overawe congress, if possible, and to inaugurate revolu 
tion if their menaces failed. You all know well the way of that 
memorable controversy. How eminent men yielded to the menaces 
without waiting for the revolution, and projected and tendered to 
the privileged class a new compromise, modeled after the already 
time-honored compromise of 1820. You all know how firmly, 
notwithstanding this defection of leaders honored and beloved, 
the house of representatives, and even the senate, repelled the 
compromise, and how firmly the unprivileged class of freemen 
throughout the Union demanded the unqualified and unconditional 
admission of California into the Union, and refused to allot any 
further territories to the privileged class, for the extension of the 
system of human bondage. You all remember, too, how in a critical 
hour the president sickened and died, and how the hearts of congress 
and of all the people swooned at his grave, and thenceforward all 
was lost. You remember how the provisional successor of that 
lamented president with ominous haste accepted the resignation of 
his cabinet, and committed the seals to a new one, pledged like him 
self to the adoption of the compromise which the people had 
condemned ; and how at last, after a painful struggle, its adoption 
was effected. I think, also, that you have* not thus soon forgotten 
the terms of that compromise, the fourth final and everlasting settle-^ 
gTvj;- of *kp Conflict between^the privileged and the unprivileged 
classes of t.Tn q rppnb] 1 You have not forgotten how the ordinance 
of 1787, which excluded slavery from the region northwest of the 
Ohio, was left to stand, as an institution too sacred to be even ques 
tioned. How the Missouri compromise, which extended that ordi 
nance across the Mississippi, and over all Kansas and Nebraska, was 
made at once the authority, precedent, and formula, of the new 
compromise, and even declared to be an irrepealable law forever. 
How California, which refused to become a slave state, was grudgingly 
admitted into the Union as a free one. How the hateful and detest- 
VOL. IV. 30 



able slave auctions were banished from under the eaves of the capitol, 
quite across to the opposite side of the Potomac river. And how, 
in consideration of these magnanimous and vast concessions made 
by the privileged class, it was stipulated that slavery should be con 
tinued in the District of Columbia as long as the privileged class 
should require its continuance. New Mexico, with her free consti 
tution, was superciliously remanded to her native mountains, while, 
without a hearing, her ancient and free territory was dismembered, 
and its fairest part transferred to Texas, with the addition of ten 
millions of dollars, to win its acceptance by that defiant privileged 
state. You remember how it was solemnly stipulated that Utah and 
New Mexico, if the slaveholders could corrupt them, should come 
into the Union, in due time, as slaveholding states ; and, finally, how 
the privileged class, so highly offended and exasperated, were brought 
to accept this compromise on their part, by a reenactment of the 
then obsolete fugitive slave law of 1793, with the addition of the 
revolting features of an attempted suspension of the habeas corpus ; 
an absolute prohibition of the trial by jury; an effective repeal of 
f vital rales of procedure and evidence, and the substitution of com 
missioners in place of courts of justice, in derogation of the consti 
tution. You all remember how laboriously and ostentatiously this 
compromise was associated with the time-honored forms and solemni 
ties of the Missouri compromise ; how it was declared, not the result 
of mere legislation, but a contract, with mutual equivalents, by the 
privileged with the unprivileged classes, irrepealable and even 
unamendable without perfidy and even treason against the constitu 
tion and the Union. You all remember how, notwithstanding your 
protests and mine, it was urgently, violently, clamorously ratified 
and confirmed, as a full, fair, final, and perpetual adjustment, by the 
two great political conventions of the country, representing the whole 
people of the United States, assembled at Baltimore in 1852 ; and 
how the heroic and generous Scott was rejected, to bring into the 
presidency one who might more safely be trusted to defend and pre 
serve and establish it forever. 

Nevertheless, scarcely one year had elapsed, before the privileged 
class, using some of our own representatives as their instruments, 
broke up not only this compromise of 18cO, but even the compro 
mise of 1820 and the ordinance of 1787, and obtained the declaration 
of congress, that all these settlements, so far as they were adverse to 



the privileged class, were unconstitutional usurpations of legislative 
power. I do not stop to stigmatize or even to characterize these 
aggressions. Of what use would it be to charge perfidy, when the 
losses we deplore have resulted from our own imbecility and cow 
ardice ? I do not dwell, as others so often and so justly do, upon the 
atrocious usurpation of the government of Kansas by the slave 
holders of Missouri, nor even on the barbarous and tyrannical code 
which they have established to stifle freedom in that territory, nor 
even yet on the fraudulent and nefarious connivance of the president 
with the usurpers. 

Nor will I draw into this picture, already too darkly shaded, 
the personal humiliations which daily come home to yourselves in 
the conduct of your own affairs. You are commanded by an 
unconstitutional law of congress to_seize and deliver up to the mem 
bers of that privileged class their fugitive slaves, under the penalty 
of imprisonment and forfeiture of your estates. You may not inter- 
pose between the armed slaveholder and the wounded slave, to 
prevent his being murdered, without coming under arrest for treason, 
nor may you cover his naked and lacerated limbs except by stealth. 
You have fought twenty years, and with but partial success, for the 
constitutional right to lay your remonstrances on the table of con 
gress. You may not tell the freed slave who reaches your borders 
that he is free, without being seized by a federal court, and con 
demned, without a trial or even an accusation, to an imprisonment 
without bail or mainprize, and without limitation of sentence. Your 
representatives in either house of congress must speak with bated 
breath and humble countenance in presence of the representatives 
of the privileged class, lest justice he denied to your old soldiers 
when they claim their pensions, or to your laborers when they claim 
the performance of their contracts with the government. ^The pres 
ident of the United States is reduced to the position of a deputy of 
the privileged class, emptying the treasury and marshaling bat 
talions and ships of war to dragoon you into the execution of the 
fugitive slave law on the one hand, while he removes governors and 
judges, at their command, who attempt to maintain lawful and con 
stitutional resistance against them in the territory of Kansas, ^he 
vice-president of the United States and the speaker of the house "of 
representatives are safe men, whom the privileged class can trust in 
every case. The care of the judiciary of the territories, and even 


of the foreign relations, is intrusted in either house to assured sup 
porters of that class. Protection is denied to your wool, while it is. 
freely given m tp the slaveholder s sugar._ Millions of acres of the 
public domain are freely, given to Alabama, for railroads, and even 
as gratuities, while not a dollar can be obtained to remove the rocks 
of Hellgate and the sands of the Overslaugh, or the bars in lake 
St. Clair or those in the mouths of your lake harbors. Canada, 
lying all along your northern borders, must not even be looked upon, 
lest you may lust after it, while millions upon millions are lavished 
in war and diplomacy to annex and spread slavery over Louisiana, 
Florida, Texas, Mexico, Cuba, and Central America. Your liberty 
of speech, where is it ? You may not, without severe rebuke, 
speak of despotism in foreign lands, lest the slave overhear you on 
the plantations of the privileged class, or the foreign despot visit 
them in retaliation for your unavailing sympathy. The national 
flag, the emblem of universal liberty, covers cargoes of slaves, not 
only in our own view, but flaunts defiance over them in foreign 
ports. Judges of United States courts, safe under the protection of 
the president and the senate, charge grand juries in advance of any 
question, that obnoxious and unequal federal laws are constitutional 
and obligatory; they give counsel to legislative bodies how to frame 
laws which they will sustain, instead of waiting to review those laws 
when enacted. They even convert the writ of freedom to an engine 
of slavery, and they pervert the power of punishing irregularities 
committed in their presence into the machinery of a tyranny as odious 
as that of the star chamber. The privileged class in Virginia 
imprison your seamen in their ports, in retaliation for the independ 
ence of your executive authorities ; and you are already in a 
doubtful struggle for the right to exclude the traffic in slaves from 
your own borders. 

sk. in concluding- thifi frnrm"Ha,t;imy rehearsal, whether 

there is not in this favored country a privileged class ; whether it does 
not stand on an enduring foundation ; whether it is not growing 
stronger and stronger, while the unprivileged class grows weaker and 
weaker ; whether its further growth and extent would not be, not 
merely detrimental, but dangerous ; and whether there is any hope to 
arrest that growth and extension hereafter, if the attempt shall not be 
made now ? The change, that has become at last so necessary, is as 
easy to be made as it is necessary. The whole number of slaveholders 


is only three hundred and fifty thousand, one-hundredth part of the 
entire population of the country. If you add their parents, children, 
immediate relatives and dependents, they are two millions one- 
fifteenth part of the American people. Slavery is not, and never can 

be, perpetual. It willhe overthrown, either peacefully or lawfully, 
^-. - *P . - <c >rz< ^-~2^~-x i ^*~z< r ---2-^~z.~ a< 3B *r~T 3t "~" 2--r^- 
under this constitution, or itwmwork the subversion of the constitu 

fion, tofethefwith its own^verthrowr^TThen the slaveholders would 
perish in ^^ jh^j^i^gleT^^e^cn^n^ca^n now be made without violence/ 
)y the agency of the ballot-box. The temper of the nation is 
just, liberal, forbearing. It will contribute any money and endure 
any sacrifices to effect this great and important change ; indeed, it is 
half made already. 

The will exists, because the evil has become intolerable, azid the 
need of a remedy is universally acknowledged. What, then, is 
wanted ? Organization ! Organization! IJothing but organization. 

Shall we orgamzer Wny"notrCan we <e nmmtaintnerevolution, 
so auspiciously begun, without organization ? Certainly not. Are 
you apprehensive of failure, because the revolution is not everywhere 
and at all times equally successful ? Was there ever a revolution 
that was equally successful at all times and everywhere? Certainly 
not. Do you say that you cannot abolish slavery in the privileged I 
states ? We have no need, no purpose, no constitutional power, no I 
duty, to do so. Providence has devolved that duty on others, and / 
the organic law leaves it wisely to them. We have power to avert/ 
the extension of slavery in the territories of the Union, and that isl 
enough. Do you doubt that power ? Did not the statesmen of 1787 
know the bounds of constitutional power ? Somebody has municipal 
power in the unorganized territories of the Union. Wlio is it? It 
is not any foreign state ; it is not any of the American states ; it is 
not the people in the territories. It is the congress of the whole 
United States, and their power there is supreme. Are you afraid 
that the privileged class will not submit ? The privileged class are 
human, and they are wise. They know just as well how to submit 
to just authority, firmly and constitutionally exercised, as they do 
how to extort unequal concessions by terror from timid men. Can 
the privileged class live without a Union any better than you can ? 
They would not remain and wrangle with you an hour, if they could 
do so. Can they ever hope to obtain another Union so favorable to 
them as this one, if this should be overthrown ? Will they destroy 


themselves, that they may simply do harm to you ? Did ever any 
privileged class commit such an absurd suicide as this ? Are you 
alone the keepers of the Union? Have not the privileged class 
interests as great to maintain in the Union, and are their obligations 
to maintain it different from your own ? 

How shall we organize ? The evil is a national one. The power 
and the influence and the organization of the privileged class pervade 
all parts of the Union. It knows no north, no south, no east, no 
west. It is stronger to-day on the bay of San Francisco, surrounded 
by freemen, than it is on Chesapeake bay, surrounded by slaves. _It 
is not a sectional but a national contest, on which we have entered. 
ur organization, therefore, must be a national one. The means of 

virtue of the 

nation. We must restore the principle of equality among the mem 
bers of the state the principle of the sacredness of the absolute and 
inherent rights of man. We want, then, an organization open to all 
classes of men, and that excludes none. 

We want a bold hi out-spoken, free-spoken or^ ( ni Cation- rmp. that 
openly proclaims its principles, its purposes, and its objects in fear 
of God, and not of man like that army, which Cromwell led, that 
established the commonwealth of England. This is the organization 
we want. 

It is best to take an existing organization that answers to these 
conditions, if we can find one ; if we cannot find one such, we must 
create one. Let us try existing parties by this test. Shall we take 
the know-nothing party, or the American party, as it now more 
ambitiously names itself? It is a purely sectional organization. In 
the privileged states, it scouts the principle of the equality of mao, 
and justifies the unbounded claims of the privileged class. In the 
unprivileged states, it stifles its voice and suppresses your own free 
speech, lest it may be overheard beyond the Potomac. In the privi 
leged states, it justifies all the wrongs committed against you. In 
the unprivileged states, it affects to condemn them, but protests that 
they shall not be redressed. I speak not now of its false and preva 
ricating rituals, its unlawful and unchristian oaths, its clandestine 
councils and its dark conspiracies, its mobs and its murders, proscrib 
ing and slaying men for their conscience sake and for the sake of 
their nativity. I have spoken of them often enough and freely 
enough heretofore. I say now only that all these equally unfit this 


so-called American party for any national duty, and qualify it to be 
what it has thus far been an auxiliary Swiss corps, engaging the 
friends of freedom in premature skirmishes at one time, and decoying 
them into ambushes prepared by their enemies at another. Let it 
pass by. 

Shall we unite ourselves to the democratic party ? If so, to which 
section or faction ? The hards, who are so stern in defending the 
aggressions of the privileged class, and in rebuking the administra 
tion through whose agency they are committed ? or the softs, who 
protest against these aggressions, while they sustain and invigorate 
that administration ? Shall we suppose the democratic party reunited 
and consolidated ? What is it, then, but the same party which has 
led in the commission of all those aggressions, save one, and which 
urged, counseled and cooperated in that, and claims exclusively the 
political benefits resulting from it? Let the democratic party pass. 

Shall we report ourselves to the whig party ? Where is it ? Gen 
tle shepherd, tell me where ! Four years ago it was a strong and 
vigorous party, honorable for energy, noble achievements, and still 
more for noble enterprises. In 1852 it was united and consolidated, 
and moved by panics and fears to emulate the democratic party 
in its practised subserviency to the privileged class, and it yielded 
in spite of your remonstrances and mine. The privileged class, 
who had debauched it, abandoned it, because they knew that it 
could not vie with its rival in the humiliating service it proffered 
them ; and now there is neither whig party no,r whig, south of the 

How is it in the unprivileged states ? Out of New York, the 
lovers of freedom, disgusted with its prostitution, forsook it, and 
marched into any and every other organization. We have main 
tained it here, and in its purity, until the aiders and abettors of the 
privileged class, in retaliation, have wounded it on all sides, an-d it 
is now manifestly no longer able to maintain and carry forward, 
alone and unaided, the great revolution that it inaugurated. He is 
unfit for a statesman, although he may be a patriot, who will cling 
even to an honored and faithful association, when it is reduced so low 
in strength and numbers as to be entirely ineffectual amid the con 
tests of great parties by which republics are saved. Any party, 
when reduced so low, must ultimately dwindle and dwarf into a 
mere faction. Let, then, the whig party pass. It , committed a 


fault, and grievously hath Jt answered it^ Let it inarch out 
of the field, therefore, with all the honors. 

The principles of true democrats and the principles of true whigs 
remain throughout all changes of parties and of men, and, so far as 
they are sound, they are necessarily the same. Such true democrats 
and true whigs are now ready to unite on those sound principles 
common to both. Neither of these two classes can or ought to insist 
on forcing a defective organization, with a stained banner, upon the 
other. The republican organization has sagaciously seen this, and 
magnanimously laid anew, sound and liberal platform, broad enough 
for both classes to stand upon. Its principles are equal and exact 
justice; its speech open, decided and frank. Its banner is untorn 
in former battles, and unsullied by past errors. That is the party 
for us. I do not know that it will always, or even long, preserve its 
courage, its moderation, and its consistency. If it shall do so, it will 
rescue and save the country. If it, too, shall become unfaithful, 
as all preceding parties have done, it will, without sorrow or regret 
on my part, perish as they are perishing, and will give place to 
another, truer and better one. 

So long as the republican party shrill be firm and faithful to the 
constitution, the Union, and the rights of man, I shall serve it with 
the reservation of that personal independence which is my birthright, 
but, at the same time, with the zeal and devotion that patriotism 
allows and enjoins. I do not know, and personally I do not greatly 
care, that it shall work out its great ends this year, or the next, or in 
my lifetime ; because I know that those ends are ultimately sure, 
and that time and trial are the elements which make all great refor 
mations sure and lasting. I have not thus far lived for personal ends 
or temporary fame, and I shall not begin so late to live or labor for 
them. I have hoped that I might leave roy. country somewhat wor 
thier of a lofty destiny, and | ( fre rightff oj human nature somewhat 
jsafer. A reasonable ambitipnmustji^^ with sincere 

and prac^alenaeavors. If, amonsr those who shafi^ornearter us. 

A**- "*""^!^*"?^-" "* *-""**" 

there snail be any curious inquirer who shall fall upon a name so 

obscure as mine, he shall be obliged to confess that, however unsuc 
cessfully I labored for generous ends, yet that I nevertheless was 
ever faithful, ever hopeful. 



I AM always proud of my native state, when I stand in the presence 
of the mountains under whose shadow I was born, or on the shores 
of the silvery lakes among which I dwell. I am prouder still, when, 
looking off from the vestibule of the capitol, I see the mediterranean 
waters of the continent, obedient to her command, mingle their floods 
with the tides of the world-encircling ocean. No less buoyant is my 
pride now, when, standing here in the presence of Niagara, the marvel 
of nature itself, I see New York at once unlocking the gates of the 
west, and standing sentinel on the frontier of the republic, whose 
safety constitutes the hope of the human race. Speaking on such a 
stage, how can I do otherwise than speak thoughtfully, sincerely, 
earnestly ? 

Ye good men of Erie ! The republican party is sounding through 
out all our borders a deep-toned alarum for the safety of the consti 
tution, of union, and of liberty. Do you hear it ? The republican 
party declares, that by means of recent treacherous measures adopted 
by congress and the president of the United States, the constitutional 
safeguards of citizens, identical with the rights of human nature 
itself, are undermined, impaired, and in danger of being overthrown. 
It declares that if those safeguards be not immediately renewed and 
restored, the government itself, hitherto a fortress of republicanism, 
will pass into the hands of an insidious aristocracy, and its batteries 
be turned against the cause which it was reared to defend. 

The republican party is not deficient, either in intelligence, in 
earnest patriotism, in moderation, or in numbers. Its members 
everywhere are among those who, in all our political, moral and 
religious associations, have been as enlightened and as efficient as 
their fellows. Those who constitute its masses have, some for long 
periods, and others throughout long lives, been consistent supporters, 
not only of the constitution, but also of all those principles of jus- 

VOL. IY 31 


tice, equality and liberty, which are the basis of republican govern 
ment. Not one of them, so far as we know, has ever counseled 
seditious or factious measures. The republican party holds either 
paramount or at least respectable rank and authority in thirteen of 
the states, with either the whole or a majority of the representatives 
of each of those states in the Federal Union. 

It is, indeed, popularly regarded as a party of yesterday. But 
practically it is old and well known in the field of public affairs. 
Its policy is to inculcate perpetual jealousy of the increase and 
extension of slavery, and the plantation organization and admis 
sion of free states in the common territories of the United States. 
This policy is even older than the constitution itself. It was the 
policy of Jay, Madison, Jefferson and Washington. It was early 
exercised in prohibiting the African slave trade, and devoting the 
northwest territory to impartial freedom. Although it has not 
always prevailed in the federal government, it has, without change 
or even the shadow of turning, been always the policy of the state 
of New York, which has continually been the wisest member of the 
confederacy, and as loyal as any other member. Those who have 
cherished this policy have, however, been divided and distributed 
among the many parties which have existed, until, by reason of that 
separation alone, the policy itself has been arrested and defeated. De 
feated, but not successfully repressed, that policy has at last worked 
out a disintegration of all the parties by whom it was so unwisely 
and disloyally discarded. Its advocates, thus disengaged and released 
, from diverse and uncongenial relations, have come together by means 
of a just and natural affinity, and have organized, and they now con 
stitute the republican party. 

Slavery, contrary to the expectations of the founders of the repub- 
still exists in this, the seventy-ninth year of independence ; and 
it has at once a purpose to perpetuate itself, and apparently a reason- 
able hope of at least a long continuance. On the other hand, the 
love of equality, springing alike and all at once from the consciences, 
the judgments, and the hearts of the American people, is irrepressi 
ble and imperishable, and so there will remain an undying jealousy 
of the aggrandizement of slavery. The republican party fosters that 
jealousy, and directs it to the proper means of active resistance. 
Thus it happens, that as the republican party is not a party of yes- 

* , / Sla 
jff* I lie, sti 


terday, it is also^not merehr a party of tft-cfay, ^ nf fr dnra-hl^ ppr 
petual organization. 

""The slaveholders, always sufficiently united and consolidated, 
have so improved their advantages, that their aggressions have b 
come at last intolerable. They have rushed into a dead-lock with 
their opponents. The nation s whole breadth is the field of contest. 
A changeless sway of the republic, throughout its future existence, 
is the object of this majestic strife. So the slaveholders on the one ^ 
side, and the republican party on the other, are now, and for an i. 
indefinite period must continue to be, not merely the chief combat- ^ 
ants, but practically the only combatants in tne Union. ISucn is the 
republican party, and such^areTie circumstances under which it 
appeals to you to enlist under its banner, and give it your enlight 
ened and effective cooperation. Shall I have on your part a fair 
and candid hearing in its behalf? 

I am well aware that at this moment large popular masses are at 
rest, while others, broken up in the general wreck of former parties, 
are moving capriciously, and in divergent directions. I know equally 
well that popular masses, at rest, have a sort of vis inertice to over 
come; and that popular masses, suddenly and violently disturbed, 
cannot all at once compose themselves, and organize. I apprehend, 
therefore, that here, as elsewhere, there may be, on the part of some, 
a disposition to indolence, and on the part of others a disposition to 
avoid the organization which seems to me to have become necessary. 
Both of these dispositions persuade to neutrality. 

Are you indeed sure, then, that neutrality will be right, even if 
you find it possible? Is liberty to be maintained in this republic, 
otherwise than through the conflicts of great parties ? Where there 
are no great parties, there are either many small factions, or no parties 
or factions whatever. A state that surrenders itself to the confused 
contests of small parties or factions, is sinking inevitably toward 
despotism. A state that has no parties or factions at all is a despo 
tism already. 

In every conflict between great parties (speaking without reference 
to the motives of leaders or of masses), is there not one side that is 
absolutely or relatively the right side, and which, because it is the 
right side, is the side favorable to the public welfare and the public 
safety ; and also another side that is absolutely or relatively the 
wrong side, and therefore the side detrimental to the public welfare, 


and injurious to the public safety ? Are the welfare and safety of 
the whole body politic anything else than the welfare and safety 
of all its individual members ? Can I justly expect you to defend my 
interest, and to assure my safety, if I will not defend and guard them 
myself? In an ancient republic, it was made a capital crime to re 
fuse to take a side in every political contest that agitated the com 
monwealth. The penalty was indeed too severe, but was not the 
policy of the law just and wise ? Still you fear agitation, and desire 
repose. Was not the British commonwealth free from disturbance 
when it so suddenly went down, and the Stuarts renewed their 
hateful dominion ? Was not the late French republic distracted by 
petty factions, regardless of the constitution and its safety, when the 
coup d etat of Louis Napoleon placed him upon the throne, and sent 
the republicans of France to prison, to exile and to death ? Quiet 
and repose are indeed desirable, when they can be safely enjoyed ; 
but they can be safely enjoyed only when they come at intervals of 
great activity, and repair and fit the wearied commonwealth for 
renewed watchfulness. 

Can you maintain neutrality ? If you enlist into or remain asso 
ciated with the democratic party, or either of its sections, that is to 
engage directly in the contest. Even if your party or section dis 
avow opposition to freedom, all its successes enure to the advantage 
of the slaveholders. Is neutrality easy to be maintained, amid the 
excitement of political contests ? Zealous men in opposing parties 
mutually respect each other, if they are generous , but they agree in 
despising the timid and trimming citizen. In every campaign, the 
place of greatest danger is the neutral ground lying between the two 
lines, because it is raked by the fire of both armies. 

Perhaps you think the immunities of neutrality may be secured 
by remaining in some independent outside association. How long 
do you think any considerable mass of American citizens, enlightened, 
open, manly, ardent, as they are, will be amused or interested in the 
mummeries of a merely private, secret, selfish, bigoted, prescriptive 
cabal, and its stale debates about the proper conditions of naturaliza 
tion, and the claims of adopted citizens to the privilege of gracing 
the parades of the militia on muster days, and the non-conformity 
of Catholic clergy to the approved protestant tenures of churches 
and burying grounds, when the discussion of the great question, 
whether this shall be a land of freedom or a land of slavery, shall 


have actually begun, and every popular tribune is occupied ? When 
the sea is calm, light and fanciful barks sport safely and gaily on its 
surface, among its merchantmen and its ships of war. But when 
the storm king lashes the waves, and they rise up to kiss his feet, 
the fantastical craft, no matter how broad its streamers, or how sharp 
its keel, or how dexterous its navigator, suddenly disappears. 

I conclude, therefore, that you all, if not now, yet soon enough^ 
will take one side or the other in this great controversy. 

Which side? It will be the side on which justice, equality and 
freedom, shall be found ; and, therefore, on which final success and 
triumph shall be found. Which side is that? Even the matbema-_ 
tician^annot prove a self-eyjr)p,r|t, truth in his sciepra; no? ran T 
demonstrate a self-evident truth in politics. To assert that justice, 
or freedom, may be found on the side of those who are laboring to 
fortify and extend slavery, is one of those paradoxes which pen 
sioned error requires us to refute. I may be able to illustrate its 
absurdity. Justice, equality and freedom, in political discussions, 
relate to individual men and masses of men in the state. The old 
Roman state consisted of members constituting three classes : 1st. 
Patricians or privileged citizens ; 2d. Plebeians or unprivileged citi 
zens ; 3d. Slaves, equally held by both of the other classes. All 
the politics of that great and powerful people, whether of peace or 
war, domestic or foreign, turned on the ever-changing balances of 
these three classes and chiefly on that of the two first. In the 
United States, there are also three classes. Slaveholders, non-slave 
holders and slaves. From the foundation of our system, and even 
from an early period, in the revolutionary war itself, all American 
politics, whether of peace or war, and whether domestic or foreign, 
have mainly turned, as they are now conspicuously turning, with 
the vibrations of the balances between these three classes, and chiefly 
those of the balances between the two first. Always the slavehold 
ers, apprehensive of danger to property and pretensions anomalous 
and obnoxious, seek to fortify themselves, with blind disregard to 
the rights and interests of non-slaveholders. Always the non-slave 
holders, having an increasing consciousness that slavery in any 
degree is injurious to the state, and dangerous in proportion to its 
strength, seek to counteract the policy of the slaveholders by diffus 
ing the spirit of freedom. The cause of the non-slaveholders is 
assumed by the republican party, and by no other party, sect or 


On which side, then, may we expect that justice, equality 
and liberty, will be found ? 

The opposition, however, tell us they cannot yet see that slave 
holders may not possibly have justice on their side. Let us try to 
make the matter plain. Slaveholders are men engaged in the occu 
pations of society, and they are a power in the state. Non-slave 
holders, using only free labor, are human also, and another power in 
the state. Their systems clash, their interests conflict, their ambi 
tions conflict. The one power strives to extend, the other to circum 
scribe, slavery. The republicans, by succession, are the party who 
have opposed all the political concessions which have hitherto been 
made to slavery. They opposed successfully the introduction of 
slavery into the northwest territory. They opposed, with partial 
success, the extension of slavery in the territory acquired from 
France. They opposed, with partial success, the extension of slavery 
in the state of Texas. They opposed, with partial success, the ex 
tension of slavery in the territory obtained by conquest from Mexico. 
They opposed the abrogation of the restriction in favor of freedom 
contained in the Missouri compromise. They now demand the ad 
mission, not only of free states, but also of free states only, into the 
American Union. The slaveholders are the party by whose power 
and influence all the enlargements of slavery within the United States 
have been made. On which side, then, are justice, equality and free 
dom ? Answer me upon your honors and your consciences. 

An immediate issue involves the question whether Kansas shall be 
rescued from jeopardy of slavery, aggravated perhaps by the horrors- 
of civil war, and brought into the Union as a free state, notwith 
standing the dereliction of congress and the treachery of the presi 
dent of the United States. This issue is to be decided by the 
present congress, or possibly continued before the next congress, 
under a new administration. The republican party are committed 
to the rescue of Kansas. Is it not just that Kansas shall be a free 
state ? Is it not an inherent right of every community to be free, 
if it desires to be so ? What does your Declaration of Independence 
mean, if it do not mean that ? Was not freedom pledged to Kansas 
in 1820, by the slaveholders themselves? Was -not that pledge 
surreptitiously and perfidiously broken in 1854, by the Kansas ter 
ritorial act ? Was not freedom pledged even by that act to the 
people of Kansas, if they should desire to be free ? Is not even 


that pledge shamefully broken by the usurpation of the Missouri 
slaveholders ? Let the republican party prevail in this and in the 
next canvass, and Kansas will become a free state. Let the republi 
can party fail, and Kansas will inevitably be a slave state. On 
which side, then, are justice, equality, and freedom ? Answer me, 
as you will expect to answer at the bar of the public opinion of 

The sophists return to the argument with new and various dilem 
mas. They are not satisfied that congress had the power to enact 
the restriction contained in the Missouri compromise of 1820. Grant 
that they had not. Yet the people of Kansas have the right now 
to establish a free state. But congress had constitutional power to 
enact that restriction. It was identical with the ordinance of 1787. 
That ordinance was established simultaneously with the passing and 
adoption of the constitution, and successive constitutional congresses 
have ratified and confirmed it. Did not the statesmen of 1787 
understand the constitutional powers of congress ? 

Again: There is no part of the territory of the United States 
over which there is not plenary absolute sovereignty residing some 
where? Where does that sovereignty reside ? in the people of the 
United States. By whom is the legislative power of that sovereignty 
exercised? By congress alone. Congress can make all "needful 
rules and regulations " concerning the public lands and other property 
of the United States. The prohibition of slavery was the most 
needful of all rules and regulations. How pitiful is the quibble 
built on a criticism of the terms of this grant, when the constitution 
contains no other grant of legislative power over the territories, and 
the entire establishment of government in the territories rests on 
this one grant only ! 

The opposition tell us, that if congress could prohibit slavery in 
territories, then they might establish it there ; and hence they argue 
against the power to prohibit. No ! Congress can establish slavery 
nowhere. Slavery was never established rightfully anywhere. Nor 
was it ever established by law. It is in violation of every line of 
the Declaration of Independence, and of the whole summary of 
personal rights contained in the constitution. It is derogatory from 
the absolute rights of human nature, and no human power can sub 
vert trKHe rights. On which side, then, are justice, equality, and 
freedom? Answer, as you would have your constitution stand a 


charter of freedom, or be perverted to the overthrow of the rights 
of mankind. 

But, granting that justice, freedom, and equality, are on the side 
of the republican party, we are asked, what guaranties can it give 
of loyalty to the constitution and the Union ? The question is an 
insult to your state, to the memories of its founders, and the memo 
ries of your fathers. Are loyalty and patriotism peculiar virtues of 
slaveholders only ? Are sedition and treason natural vices of men, 
who, fearing God and loving liberty for themselves, would therefore 
extend its blessings to all mankind ? What is there inherent in the 
nature of slavery, to make slaveholders loyal to institutions of free 
dom and equality ? "What is there inherent in the nature of freedom, 
to make those who possess, cherish, and defend it, disloyal to its 
noble and necessary institutions? We give the guaranty of princi 
ples identical with the principles of the constitution and the Declara 
tion of Independence. We give the guaranties of peaceful, just, 
and loyal lives, marked with a patience that has endured as long as 
they were tolerable, and without even a ruffling of the temper, not 
only the insults of slaveholders, but their menaces of disunion. 
Can slaveholders give better guaranties than these? Will they even 
give you any guaranties of fidelity to the constitution and the Union ? 
No, they argue only in threats of the subversion of both. 

The apologists of slavery, thus jnet, change front suddenly, and 
ask us whether it jg^gafc tr> J^ra.vp. these menaces of disunion. I 
answer Jfes^jresJ Interests of a thousand kinds material, social, 
moral, and political affections springing from the very constitution 
of our nature bind us non-slaveholders to this Union. The slave 
holders, in spite of all these threats, are bound to it by the same 
bonds, and they are bound to it also by a bond peculiarly their own 
that of dependence on it for their own safety. Three millions of 
slaves are a hostile force constantly in their presence, in their very 
midst. The servile war is always the most fearful form of war. 
The world without sympathizes with the servile enemy. Against 
that war, the American Union is the only defense of the slavehold 
ers their only protection. If ever they shall, in a season of mad 
ness, secede from that Union and provoke that war, they will 

soon come back again. 

Nor are these threats the threats of slaveholders themselves. 
They are arguments of politicians in behalf of the slaveholders. No 


man, heated by passion or the spirit of controversy, can safely 
pledge his future conduct. Reason will decide that for him, when 
the contemplated emergency shall have come. Neither can these 
politicians pledge the future conduct of the slaveholders. They 
will decide for themselves, when the time for their acquiescence 
comes. No mass of men in this country are so libeled by their ene 
mies as the slaveholders are by their friends. I know many of them 
well. I have seen them in their homes, on their plantations, and in 
their social circles. I never knew a disloyal man amongst them. 
But, even if the case were otherwise, are we always to submit to 
threats instead of arguments to refer everything to the umpirage 
of passion to surrender everything to those who hold us in duress 
by our fears? If this is to be the rule, how long shall we have any 
thing valuable, in policy, justice, equality, or freedom, to surrender? 
I know not how it may affect you, but every nerve and fibre and 
element of manhood within me is stretched to its utmost tension 
by these perpetual appeals to the ignoble instinct of fear, and not 
to the impartial counsel of my conscience and my judgment. Last, 
comes one who with seeming meekness asks us to consider whether 
it is wise to jeopard the safety and happiness of twenty-five millions 
of white men, in a vain effort to mitigate the sufferings of only 
three millions of negroes? Humane, cautious, paternal, conscien 
tious, man ! I might join issue, and ask where, in the ethics 
either of government or of Christianity, you find authority to hold 
three millions of men in bondage, to promote the welfare or even to 
secure the safety of twenty-five millions of other men. But that 
argument belongs to the abolitionists of slavery, who do not reckon 
me in their number, and whose objects in this election are far more 
comprehensive than those of the republican party which I defend. 

I leave the rights and the interests of the slaves in the states to 
their own care and that of their advocates ; I simply ask whether 
the safety and the interests of twenty-five millions of free non-slave- 
holding white men ought to be sacrificed or put in jeopardy for the 
convenience or safety of three hundred and fifty thousand slave 
holders ? I hear no answer. 

There can be no answer, unless the apologists of slavery shall 
unblushingly assert that slaveholders, in their intercourse with non- 
slaveholders, are calm, tolerant, just. How is the fact? The non- 
slaveholder in the slave state is allowed no independence, no 

VOL. IV. 32 


neutrality. He must support, maintain and defend slavery. The 
non-slaveholders constitute only a second estate in every slavehold- 
ing community ; whips, pistols, knives, enforce not merely their 
silence, but their active partizanship. The right of free speech is 
lost to them, the right of suffrage is valueless to them, the honors 
and rewards of public office are denied to them. In Kansas, now 
by usurpation a slave territory, the utterance of this speech, calm 
and candid although I mean it to be, would be treason ; the reading 
and circulation of it in print would be punished with death. 

Hitherto, this tyranny of slaveholders over non-slaveholding 
citizens has been mainly confined to slaveholding communities. But 
slavery has of late arrogantly claimed to be national. Congress is 
sanctioning the usurpation, and the federal courts and even state 
courts are boldly enforcing it. In violation of the constitution, con 
gress compels the non-slaveholders in the free states to capture and 
deliver the fugitive slave. Congress at its last session was on the eve 
of subverting the original, honored jurisdiction of state courts over 
federal officers accused of offenses against the personal rights of the 
citizen. The ancient writ of habeas corpus has become a remedy in 
the capture of slaves, and the process of punishment for contempt 
suffices to imprison a non-slaveholding citizen, without indictment, 
trial or conviction, without bail or mainprize, and without limitation 
of sentence, where a slaveholder is the prosecutor. Are not these 
invasions of state rights fearfully premonitory that slavery is to be 
come a universally ruling power throughout the republic ? 

Nevertheless, and in view of all these things, the apologists of 
slavery ask : Why bring these issues into a merely state election ? 
"Who brought them here? What are the platforms of the hards, 
the softs and the know-nothings, but issues with the republican 
party, by demurrer or by denial, tendered by themselves? Can you 
organize a republican national party one year, and dissolve it the 
next, and yet restore it in a third year, to accommodate local politics ? 
Why have the parties in this state, always competent to control the 
action of the federal government, left these national grievances to 
reach this intolerable height? Why should not the legislature, 
the magistrates, and the ministerial officers, of this state be men who 
dare to defend, and will defend, the rights of its citizens? Away t 
then, with these subterfuges. 

I dwell briefly on the momentous importance of this crisis. We 


are indeed sixteen free states to fifteen slave states, and numerically 
we have a majority of representatives in both houses of congress. 
So we had when the Missouri compromise restriction was abrogated. 
You have no reliable majority in either house, unless you instruct, 
support and maintain them at home. If you do this, there is an end 
to the extension of slavery ; if you do not, slavery, which is now 
firmly planted on the coast of Mexico, and which extends upward to 
the border at Kansas, will cross that border and fasten its outposts 
on the southern border of British America. Thus the free states 
will be shut out from the Pacific coast. Divided by this wall, the 
free states become imbecile, and slavery grasps the dominion of the 
republic. Dominion over this republic, by whomever exercised, is 
dominion over the continent and all its islands. Where will free 
dom, impartial freedom, find a refuge? Will it even find one in 
British America ? Are you willing to be driven to find it there ? If 
it cannot be maintained here, can it be secured there ? Shall this be 
the inglorious end of the republican system planted at Plymouth 
this the inglorious end of the republic delivered by Lafayette, organ 
ized and consolidated by Washington ? 

Tell me not that these are exaggerations. Forbear si^c 

ovi can show me when or w nere I have sounded a, fnlsp 

or exaggerated any one of the dangers through which, in the course 
of this long strife with the slaveholders, we, have been passing. 

I am indeed earnest ! I have seen slavery in the slave states, and 
^ > ^^^?^*^*?^**^^*^^^ 1 ~ ~ . i 

freeudm in trie free states ; I have even seen both slavery and free- _ 

cipm in this state ;_I- know too well the evils of the former to be 
willing to spare any effort to prevent their return. The experience 
of New York tells the whole argument against slavery extension, 
the whole argument for universal freedom. Suppose that, fifty years 
ago, New York, like Virginia and Maryland, had clung to slavery, 
where now would have been these three composite millions of free 
men, the choice and flower of Europe and America? In that case, 
would superstition and false national pride have needed to organ 
ize a secret cabal, affiliated by unlawful oaths, to proscribe the exile 
and his children for their nativity or their conscience sake ? Where 
would, then, have been the Erie canal, the Genesee Valley canal, the 
Oswego canal, the Seneca and Cayuga canal, the Crooked Lake 
canal, the Chemung canal, the Chenango canal, the Black River 
canal, the Champlain canal where the imperial New York Central 


railroad, the Erie railroad, and the Ogdensburgh railroad, with their 
branches penetrating not only every inhabited district in this state, 
but every inhabited region also in adjacent states and in British 
America? Where would have been the colleges, academies, and 
above all, the free common schools, yielding instruction to children 
of all sects and in all languages ? Where the asylums and other 
public charities, and above all, that noble emigrant charity which 
crowns the state with such distinguished honor ? Where these ten 
thousand churches and cathedrals, renewing on every recurring 
Sabbath day the marvel of Pentecost, when the sojourner from 
every land hears the gospel of Christ preached to him in his own 
tongue ? Where would have been the steamers, the barges, brigs 
and schooners which crowd this harbor of Buffalo, bringing hither 
the productions of the Mississippi valley and of the gulf coast, in 
exchange for the fabrics of the Atlantic coast and of Europe, and for 
the teas and spices of Asia ? Where the coasting vessels, the mer 
chant ships, the clippers, the whale ships, and the ocean mail steam 
ers, which are rapidly concentrating in our great seaport the commerce 
of the world ? Where the American navy, at once the representa 
tive and champion of the cause of universal republicanism ? Where 
your inventors of steamboats, of electric telegraphs, and of planing 
machines where your ingenious artizans where your artists where 
your mighty press ? Where your twenty cities and where, above 
all, the merry, laughing agricultural industry of native-born and exotic 
laborers, enlivening the whole broad landscape, from the lake coast 
to the ocean s side. Go ask Virginia go ask even noble Maryland, ex 
pending as she is a giant s strength in the serpent s coils, to show you 
her people, canals, railroads, universities, schools, charities, commerce, 
cities, and cultivated acres. Her silence is your expressive answer. 
Once more : Spaniards planted slave states in America ; England 
planted not only slave states but free ones. Spain planted twice as 
many as England, and cultivated them with more assiduous and 
maternal care. The Anglo-American free states are all of them strong 
and vigorous, and already overshadow the continent. Europe regards 
them with respect and admiration. There is not one Spanish Amer 
ican state that is truly self-subsisting and independent. Sciolists 
talk of Anglo-Saxon blood. ISTo nobler blood than the Iberian ever 
coursed through human veins. But the Spaniard planted only slave 
states. The Anglo-Saxon planted free ones. 



THE PROCESS of empire-building in these United States of Ame 
rica is in some respects new and peculiar. We had not here a 
state which was compact and complete at its beginning, nor have we 
conquered other nations, or planted colonies, near or distant, to be 
held as dependencies by force alone. On the contrary, we had a 
broad foundation laid, upon which were raised at first only thirteen 
columns, a portion of an indefinite number which were to be erected 
during a long future, all of one material and equal strength, and all 
to be combined inseparably, according to one great original design. 

New states, ultimately to become members of the Federal Union, 
pass through stages of unorganized colonization, and of dependence 
and pupilage under the federal government, or that of some foreign 
power, and receive their biases and even form their social institutions 
during those early stages. Nevertheless, so intimate is the union of 
all these states, that each exerts no measured influence upon every 
other, while the fortune of any one is inseparably involved in the 
common destiny of all. 

You will infer at once from these statements, that the nature and 
character of the institutions, of even any one maturing territory in 
the United States, are subjects of the highest and possibly even vital 
importance. That, although caprice and oppression may be harm 
lessly practised by other nations upon their provinces and colonies, 
yet such wrongs, committed by our federal government against our 
growing territories, are equally injurious to those territories, and 
dangerous, if not disastrous, to the whole republic. 

Itjs_my purpose to sho.w you, on this occasion, that the slavehold- 
ing class of the American people is systematically and^ annfiftflgfi^ly 

of the government, especially in regard 

to the territories, so as lo change t.hp. constitution and endanger _ the _ 
stability, welfare and liberty of the tTnion. _ 



First, insomuch as this propositionjuust seem to you bold, if not 
new, I shall show from general_ principles that it may possibly be 
true ; and secondly, I shall establish its truth by undeniable demon 

-^$. The proposition may be true. Property is an essential 
element of civil society. So is liberty, which, properly understood, 
is only the equal security of all citizens against oppression. How 
to adjust the balance between property and liberty in states, is the 
great problem of government. Property is always jealous of 
enlarged liberty, and especially so when it is based on relations sub 
versive of natural justice, which is nothing more than equality 
among men. Property, therefore, has always a biasjtoward^pppres- 
siorijjmd it derives power to oppress from its own jiajprejfche watch 
fulness of its possessors, and the ease with which they can combine. 
Liberty is exposed to the danger of such oppression by means of the 
inconsiderateness and the jealousies which habitually prevail among 
subjects or citizens. In every state all the property classes sympa 
thize with each other, through the force of common instincts of fear, 
cupidity and ambition, and are easily marshaled under the lead of 
one which becomes dominant and represents the whole. Wherever 
the rights and duties of the property classes are defined and regu 
lated, with sufficient constraints to prevent oppression, and liberty is 
at the same time so bounded as to secure property against social or 
individual aggression, there the people are free and the state is repub 
lican. WligrftjJ2J^_J)fl.1fl.Tip.p> is^ot ^accurately adjusted,_Jibity- is 
Abridged, and a property class administers the government, in jthe^ 
form of an aristocracy, or a monarchy, or a despotism. The mere 
mention of the names of Switzerland, Venice, France (her various 
alternations being remembered), Great Britain and Eussia, furnishes 
all needful illustrations of these positions. Human nature and the 
physical elements of society are everywhere the same. It is there 
fore possible that social and political errors and evils which have 
frequently existed elsewhere, may find entrance here. 

Secondly : The allegation of the perversion of the government by 
the slave property class, which I have made, is true. Firstjet jus., 
see whether such a direction jpf the government, as it describes "was 
designed or expected by its founders. On the contrary, they laid 
the foundations of the states, not in property much less in slave 
property but in the natural rights or political equality of men. 


They established few safeguards of property, knowing how apt it is 
to take care of itself, while they built strong bulwarks around liberty, 
knowing how easily liberty is everywhere overthrown. The Decla 
ration of Independence, which no weak or wicked citizen then dared 
to pronounce a series of abstractions, recited as the fundamental 
truth of the great political society which it ushered into the presence 
of nations, that "all men are created equal" "endowed by their 
Creator with the inalienable rights" of "life, liberty and the pursuit 
of happiness ;" and that " governments are instituted among men to 
secure those rights," and derive their powers only "from the consent 
of the governed." 

The convention which framed the constitution, submitted it to the 
American people by a letter bearing the signature of George Wash 
ington, in which its character was denned with a steady hand in a 
clear light. " Individuals," said the convention, " entering into 
society, must give up a share of liberty to preserve the rest. The 
magnitude of the sacrifice must depend as well on situation and cir 
cumstances as on the object to be attained. In all our deliberations 
on this subject, the object which the convention has kept steadily in 
view was the consolidation of the Union, in which is involved our 
prosperity, felicity, safety, perhaps our national existence. This impor 
tant consideration, seriously and deeply impressed on our minds, led 
each state in the convention to be less rigid on points of inferior magni 
tude than might have been otherwise expected." An analysis of the 
constitution, especially including its amendment, justifies this decla 
ration, that the points on which liberality of concession to property 
was exercised, were only those of inferior magnitude, and that neither 
prosperity, felicity, safety nor national existence, was intended to be 
put at hazard for the preservation of a mere remnant or shadow of 
liberty. Xhejjeople? speaking in the constitution, declared their 
high objects in that great transaction in words simple, majestic and 
comprehensive, "to form a perfect Union, establish justice, insure 
domestic tranquillity, provide for the common defense, promote the 
general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and 
to our posterity." They boldjj and^ directly laid the axe to the roots 
of jjrivileges and of classes,., they broke_ the very mainsprings of 
aristocracy, or at . Jeas_ihey attempi^d^tO-jla-sOy by_ ordaining, that 
"no title of nobility shall be v .granted by the United States, or by 
any state;" and that "congress shall make no law respecting an 


establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." 
Although the_eople well, knew that nearly every fourth person in 
the new republic was actually a stove* & n d that perhaps one of every 
twenty persons was a slaveholder and so they well understood the 
existence among themselves of caste and class vet they_pertina- 
ciously refused to recognize eilher^and, on the contrary, treated of 
all the subjects of the government, under the common and promiscu 
ous description of " persons," thus confounding classes and recog 
nizing only men. While they aimed at an ultimate extinction of 
that caste, and the class built upon it, by authorizing congress to 
prohibit the importation of " persons " who were slaves, after 1808, 
and to tax it severely in the meantime, and while they necessarily 
left to the individual states the management of the domestic relations 
of all classes and castes existing therein, they especially declared 
what should be the rights and relations of all " persons," so far as 
they were to be affected by the action of the federal government 
which they were establishing. " The privilege of the writ of habeas 
corpus shall not be suspended, unless, when, in case of rebellion or 
invasion, the public security shall require it." " No bill of attainder 
or ex post facto law shall be passed." " No capitation or other direct 
tax shall be laid, unless in proportion to the census." " The United 
States shall guaranty to every state in the Union a republican form 
of government." " The right of the people to keep and bear arms 
shall not be infringed." " The right of the people to be secure in 
their persons, houses, papers and effects, against unreasonable searches 
and seizures, shall not be violated." They ordained "trial by jury, 1 
prohibited " excessive bail and excessive fines, and cruel and unusual 
punishments," and " reserved to the states and to the people all the 
powers of government not expressly delegated to the United States." 
Among these broad and comprehensive reservations of liberty, 
only two inferior and guarded stipulations were made with the slave- 
holding class namely, that " no person held to service or labor in 
one state, under the laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in 
consequence of any law or regulation therein, be discharged from 
such service or labor, but shall be delivered up, on claim of the party 
to whom such service or labor may be due;" and that "representa 
tives and taxes shall be apportioned among the several states which 
shall be included within this Union, according to their respective 
numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole number 


of free persons, including those bound to service for a term of years, 
and excluding Indians not taxed, three-fifths of all other persons" 

It is manifest that congress cannot, without violating the rights 
of the people reserved by their constitution, grant any favor or pri 
vilege or advantage to the slaveholding class, or even ordain or 
permit slavery to exist within the exclusive sphere of the federal 

jurisdiction. The spirit of the Declaration of Independence ___and_of 

the constitution of the United States, thus flagrantly hostile to_classes, 
and especfally to the slaveholding cTass^ entered largely into the 
contemporaneous constitution and jawsL.of. iiLO^LQ|Li^r st . a jg s - ^-11 
of them established republican forms of governmentTTlost of them 
asserted the political equality of men. All of them prohibited 
orders of nobility and ecclesiastical classes, estates in mortmain, and 
estates by primogeniture. Seven states immediately or speedily 
prohibited slavery, and all of the others earnestly debated the same 
great and benign reform. Finally, though unable thus early to 
abolish slavery in six of the states where it already existed, the 
people in the revolutionary congress effectually provided for exclu 
ding it forever in that part of the national domain which laid northwest 
of the Ohio, and in the states which were thereafter to be established 

I think, fellow citizens, that I have shown to your abundant satis 
faction that_^uch a direction of the administration to the establish- ^~ 
ment and a^^an jizftmftnt O f the, slaveholding class, as I have charged, 
if it indeed exisjs, is a perversion of the constitution of the United 

Seventy years of our national history have been fulfilled. Fix 
your attention for a moment now on the slaveholding class, as it now 
exists. Although it has been abolished by state legislation in seven 
of the first thirteen states, and although nine free states which exclude 
it have since been admitted into the Union, yet the slaveholding 
class nevertheless stands erect and firm in fifteen of the present 
thirty-one states, numbering three hundred and forty-seven thousand 
** persons," on the basis of three millions two hundred and four 
thousand other " persons " held to labor or service by the laws 
thereof, valued at twelve hundred millions of dollars, combined 
practically with all the real estates in those states. This class spreads 
itself on the one bank of the Mississippi to the Kansas river, and on 
the other to the Ohio, and along the Atlantic coast from the banks 

VOL. IY. 33 


of the Delaware to those of the Eio Grande. In the states where 
this class exists, it is not merely secure it is permanent and com 
pletely dominant, to the exclusion not merely of all civil rights on 
the part of the "persons who are held to labor or service " by it, 
but to the inhibition of voluntary emancipation by the owners of 
slaves, to the practical exclusion of free labor from the state, and with 
it freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of the ballot 
box, freedom of education, freedom of literature, and freedom of 
popular assemblies. Thus established by municipal institutions, the 
slaveholding class has become the governing power in each of the 
slaveholding states, and it practically chooses thirty of the sixty-two 
members of the senate, ninety of the two hundred and thirty -three 
members of the house of representatives, and one hundred and five 
of the two hundred and ninety -five electors of president and vice- 
president of the United States. 

Let us now repair to the federal capital. You see, that although 
it is sadly wanting in the elements of industry and enterprise, which 
distinguish the hundred cities of the free states, yet it is a respecta 
ble metropolis, rich in costly national structures, monuments and 
gardens. This elegant and tasteful edifice is the palace of the presi 
dent of the United States. Its incumbent, you know him right well 
(for he has acquired a painful notoriety), is a confessed apologist of 
the slave-property class, a libeler of freemen and free states, which 
resist the aggressions of that class, an abettor of the extension of 
slavery, and of the enlargement of the domain of that class, by the 
violation of time-honored compacts, by armed usurpations, conquest 
and judicial corruption. You remember his history. He had been 
equally obscure among civilians and generals, but he was deemed reli 
able by the slave-property class to suppress debate on its high pre 
tensions, and he was therefore advanced to the chief magistracy, to 
the exclusion of the most heroic, magnanimous, and successful mili 
tary chief the country has produced. 

This broad highway is Pennsylvania avenue ; it leads between 
stately storehouses and dwellings, occupied by slaveholders with 
their slaves, to the capitol. We ascend the terrace, through groves 
embellished with statues and fountains, and enter the senate chamber. 
The senate is before us. It is an august assembly of ambassadors, 
deputed by thirty-one equal states. It is august by reason of its 
functions. It is an executive council, and exercises a negative voice 


on all appointments to all places of trust, honor or profit, in the 
republic, and a negative also on all treaties of the republic with 
foreign nations. As a court of impeachment, it tries all political 
crimes committed by public agents, and as a legislative body its con 
currence is necessary to the passage of all the laws of the Union. 
The age, experience and dignity of its members, together with the 
facility for transacting business which it derives from the smallness 
of its numbers, has enabled it to become the dominating political 
power in the republic. The chair belongs to the vice-president of 
the United States. He who was last advanced to that office is now 
dead. You remember him. He was chosen from a slave state. 
The senate elected in his place David E. Atchison. You know him 
well. He was chief statesman and captain in the usurpation and 
conquest recently effected by the slaveholding class in Kansas. 
When his duties in that relation called him away from the capital, 
his place there was assigned to Jesse D. Bright of Indiana. You 
know him also. He is acceptable and approved by the slave-property 
class, and he has deserved to be. 

At the feet of the presiding officer you see three secretaries, while 
his chair is surrounded by printers, sergeants- at arms, door-keepers 
and pages. Each of them is either an active or passive advocate of 
the policy of the slaveholding class. 

The business of the day opens with a debate on the relations of 
the country toward Great Britain and Central America a theme 
involving not merely immediate peace or war, but ultimately the 
continental ascendancy of the republic. The debate is instituted on 
the motion of the committee on foreign relations. The chairman of 
that committee is Mr. James M. Mason of Virginia, author of the 
last and most notorious of the fugitive slave laws. The other mem 
bers are, Mr. Stephen A. Douglas, the founder of that curious and 
evanescent system of territorial government, whilom known by the 
name of Popular Sovereignty, but now recognized as Executive 
Usurpation ; Mr. John A. Slidell of Louisiana, the same who has 
proposed a withdrawal of the naval squadron employed in suppress 
ing the slave trade on the coast of Africa; Mr. John M. Clayton 
of Delaware, who pronounces the prohibition of slavery forever, 
contained in the Missouri compromise, unconstitutional ; Mr. John 
B. Weller, of California, who upholds the executive usurpation and 
conquest in Kansas ; and with these gentlemen is associated one 


opponent of the slaveholding class, namely, my honorable and excel 
lent colleague, Mr. Hamilton Fish of New York. 

The debate has ended while we have been canvassing the com 
mittee by which it was instituted. And now the question has 
changed to one of hardly less grave importance, namely, whether 
the president of the United States shall be inhibited from employ 
ing the army as a police to enforce the tyrannical laws of the slave- 
holding conquerors of Kansas. This proposition of the house of 
representatives is opposed by the committee on finance. That com 
mittee has for its chairman Mr. Robert M. T. Hunter, also of Vir 
ginia. He is the same senator who has just now proposed to rescind 
that vote of the senate which rather admitted than declared that the 
assault made by Preston S. Brooks, a representative of South Caro 
lina, in the senate chamber, on Mr. Charles Sumner, a senator of 
Massachusetts, for words spoken in debate, was a breach of the 
privileges of the senate. The other members of this great commit 
tee are Mr. James A. Pearce of Maryland, whom you see in his 
place, franking for circulation his declaration in favor of the slave 
holders candidate for the presidency ; Mr. Crittenden of Kentucky r 
the same senator who, as attorney-general, removed Mr. Fillm ore s 
scruples concerning the suspension of the habeas corpus in the new 
fugitive slave law; Mr. Stuart of Michigan; Mr. Brodhead of 
Pennsylvania ; and Mr. Toucey of Connecticut, all of whom are 
denouncers of that agitation which consists in exposing the aggres 
sions of the slaveholding class upon the liberties of the American 

The senate needs but little time on a question so simple as that 
which has thus been raised. It has already vindicated the president s 
prerogative, and has now reached the third among the orders of the 
day, namely, the improvement of the navigation of the Mississippi, a 
measure introduced by the committee on commerce. This commit 
tee has an aspect of unusual equality. For although it embraces Mr. 
Clay of Alabama, and Mr. Benjamin of Louisiana, who are emi 
nent champions of the rights of slaveholders, it nevertheless has for 
its other members Mr. Hamlin, the newly elected governor of Maine, 
the very ultra opponent of the slaveholding class who is now ad 
dressing you, and Mr. Dodge of Wisconsin, who is its chairman. 
But this equality is in part accidental. The chairman votes against 
the slaveholding class, under the plea of instructions given him by 


the state which he represents. Mr. Ilamlin was yet in full commu 
nion with the slaveholding democracy when he was appointed to this 
committee, and my own place on it was assigned to me while as yet 
I was a national whig, and not, as now, a republican. 

The debates in the senate interrupt us. Let us therefore forget 
them, and proceed with our examination of the constitution of its 
committees. The committee on manufactures seems to have been 
framed with decided impartiality. At its head is Mr. Wright of 
New Jersey, a supporter of the policy of the slaveholding class, 
while its other members are Mr. Allen of Khode Island, a moderate 
opponent of the Nebraska and Kansas law, and Mr. Harlan of Iowa, 
Mr. Wilson of Massachusetts, and Mr. Trumbull of Illinois, three 
distinguished and effective advocates of freedom. 

I admit a similar equality in the constitution of the committee on 
agriculture, for it consists of the same Mr. Allen and Mr. Harlan, 
together with the indomitable Mr. Wade of Ohio, who are friends 
of freedom, and also Mr. Thomson of New Jersey, and Mr. Hunter 
of Virginia, who are defenders of the rights of slaveholders. 

Glad to be just to that class, I acknowledge with pleasure that 
equal liberality has been manifested in the organization of the com 
mittee on the militia. Its chairman is Mr. Houston of Texas, and 
with him is associated Mr. Bell, a true representative of New Hamp 
shire, as she was of old, is now and always ought to be ; and these 
certainly are not overbalanced by Mr. Dodge of Wisconsin, Mr. 
Biggs of North Carolina, and Mr. Thompson of Kentucky. 

I must nevertheless claim as a drawback on the magnanimity of 
the senate, that these three last committees, namely, those " on manu 
factures," "on agriculture," and "on the militia," have charge of 
public interests which have long since been renounced by the federal 
government in favor of the states, and that consequently those com 
mittees are understood to be merely nominal, and that in fact they 
never submit any measures for the consideration of congress. 

On the other hand we see prudence, if not jealousy, visibly mani 
fested in the constitution of the committee on the army and the navy, 
the two great physical forces of the republic. The first of these 
consists of Mr. Weller of California, Mr. Fitzpatrick of Alabama, 
Mr. Jones of Tennessee, Mr. Iverson of Georgia, and Mr. Pratt of 
Maryland, all of whom favor the largest liberty to the slaveholding 
class ; and the other is composed of Mr. Mallory of Florida, Mr. 


Slidell of Louisiana, Mr. Thompson of New Jersey, Mr. James of 
Rhode Island, all reliable supporters of that class, together with the- 
independent, upright, and candid John Bell of Tennessee. 

The slaveholding class is a careful guardian of the public domain. 
Mr. Stuart, of Michigan, is chairman of the committee on public 
lands. He is, as you well know, of the opinion that the agitation 
of slavery is the prolific cause of the unhappy overthrow of free 
dom in Kansas, and his associates are Mr. Johnson of Arkansas, Mr. 
Clayton of Delaware, Mr. Mallory of Florida and Mr. Pugh of Ohio r 
who all are tolerant of that overthrow, and Mr. Foot, who so faith 
fully represents the ever-reliable freemen of Vermont. 

Mr. Benjamin, of Louisiana, presides over the committee on private 
claims upon the public domain, supported by Mr. Biggs of North 
Carolina and Mr. Thompson of Kentucky, with whom are associated 
Mr. Foster, a senator of redeemed Connecticut, and Mr. Wilson of 

Negotiations with the Indian tribes are continually required, to 
provide room for the migration of the slaveholder with his slaves. 
The committee on Indian affairs, excluding all senators from free 
states, consists of Mr. Sebastian of Arkansas, Mr. Rusk of Texas, 
Mr. Toombs of Georgia, Mr. Brown of Mississippi, Mr. Reid of 
North Carolina and Mr. Bell of Tennessee. 

Two representatives of the interests of freedom, Mr. Wade of 
Ohio, and Mr. Fessenden of Maine, hold places on the committee on 
claims against the government; but they are quite overbalanced by 
Mr. Brodhead of Pennsylvania, Mr. Geyer of Missouri, Mr. Iverson 
of Georgia, and Mr. Yulee of Florida. 

The post office in its transactions is more nearly domestic and 
municipal than any other department of the government, and comes 
home to the business and bosoms of the whole people. Mr. Rusk 
of Texas, is chairman of the committee on the post office and post 
roads, and his associates are Mr. Yulee of Florida, Mr. Adams of 
Mississippi, Mr. Jones of Iowa, balanced by Mr. Collamer of Ver 
mont, and Mr. Durkee of Wisconsin. 

No inconsiderate legislation favorable to freemen must be allowed 
in the senate, no constitutional legislation necessary to the security 
of slavery must be spared. The committee on the judiciary, charged 
with the care of the public jurisprudence, consists of Mr. Butler of 
South Carolina, Mr. Bayard of Delaware, Mr. Geyer of Missouri, 


Mr. Toombs of Georgia, Mr. Toucey of Connecticut, and Mr. Pugh 
of Ohio. It was the committee on the judiciary which, in 1845, re 
ported the bill for removing from the state courts into the federal 
courts private actions brought against federal officers for injuries 
committed by them under color of their authority. 

The slaveholding class watches with paternal jealousy over the 
slaveholding capital of the United States. The committee on the 
District of Columbia consists of Mr. Brown of Mississippi, Mr. Pratt 
of Maryland, Mr. Mason of Virginia, and Mr. Eeid of North Caro 
lina, together with Mr. Allen of Rhode Island. 

The committee on territories has care of the colonization, organi 
zation, and admission of new states, and so is in fact the most impor 
tant of all the committees in the senate. Mr. Douglas, of Illinois, 
is its chairman, and his associates are his willing supporters, Mr. 
Jones of Iowa, Mr. Sebastian of Arkansas, Mr. Biggs of North 
Carolina, together with Mr. Bell of Tennessee, and the able and 
faithful Mr. Collamer of Vermont. 

Finally, the science and literature of the country must not be 
unduly directed to the prejudice of the interest: of shiver;. . The 
committee on the library take charge of this great intellectual inte 
rest, and it consists of Mr. Pearce of Maryland, Mr. Cass, the emi 
nent senator from Michigan, and Mr. Bayard of Delaware. 

You will say that my review of the committees of the senate is 
unjust, because you have not heard me mention the names of those 
distinguished champions of freedom in the senate, John P. Hale of 
New Hampshire, and Charles Sumner of Massachusetts. Behold 
the places assigned to them ! Mr. Hale graces the committees on 
" revolutionary claims " and on "public buildings," and Mr. Sumner 
fills a seat in the " committee on pensions." 

Do not think for a moment that I impeach the justice of the senate 
in the construction of its committees. When you learn how strong 
the slaveholding interest in the senate really is, you will perceive at 
once that its representatives are more than just they are even liberal 
and generous to its adversaries. You shall decide the question for 
yourselves, when I shall have called the roll. Taking the admission 
of Kansas into the Union, under the Topeka constitution, as a test, 
the classification of the senate is as follows : Rhode Island, two 
voices for slavery; Connecticut, one; New Jersey, one; Pennsyl 
vania, two; Delaware,, two; Maryland, two; Virginia, two; North 


Carolina, two ; South Carolina, two ; Georgia, two ; Alabama, two ; 
Mississippi, two ; Louisiana, two ; Ohio, one ; Kentucky, two ; Ten 
nessee, two ; Indiana, one ; Illinois, one ; Missouri, one ; Arkansas, 
two ; Michigan, two ; Florida, two ; Texas, two ; Iowa, one ; Wis 
consin, one ; California, one ; in all, twenty-six states, giving forty -three 
voices for slavery. For freedom Maine, two; New Hampshire, 
two ; Vermont, two ; Massachusetts, two ; Connecticut, one ; New 
York, two ; Ohio, one ; Illinois, one ; Iowa, one ; only nine states, 
giving only fourteen voices for freedom. 

Freemen of Michigan, I think I perceive that you are oppressed 
with the atmosphere of the senate of the United States. I cheer 
fully leave it. We have crossed the rotunda, so rich in memorials of 
the patriotism and valor of our ancestors, and now we are in the 
hall of representatives. Tbe_ house of representatives consists of 
two hundred and thirty-three members, chosen severally by the peo 
ple in representative districts. One hundred and forty -three of them 
are chosen by the people of the free states. This house virtually 
holds a controlling power over the senate and the president, through 
its exclusive right to originate bills for raising public revenue. It is 
in fact the, commons of America. But, alas ! if the senate is a strong 
citadel of slavery, the house of representatives is by no means an 
impregnable bulwark of freedom. The slaveholding class enjoys 
no advantages which have not at some time been surrendered to it 
by the house of representatives. To-day, indeed, we boast of a 
regenerated house of representatives, faithful to the interests of 
human freedom. But, after all, our boast is founded less on any 
vantage ground actually gained by the house of representatives, 
than on a retreat safely effected from the late legislative contest, 
instead of an absolute capitulation. God knows that I do not under 
value the brave and true champions of freedom who have honored 
humanity so long in the house of representatives ; John Quincy 
Adams, Giddings, Thaddeus Stevens, Preston King, David Wilmot, 
John A. King, heretofore ; and now, Grow, and Banks, and Burlin- 
game, and Howard, and Sherman, and Morgan, and Colfax, and the 
Washburnes all. But I ask, nevertheless, what have we saved in 
this last, our only successful contest in the house of representatives? 
Whitfield, the representative of the Missouri borderers in Kansas, only 
expelled, and Eeeder, the true representative of that territory, 
rejected ; a speaker, faithful to justice and humanity, barely chosen 


by a plurality ; an investigation into the atrocious crimes of Kansas, 
barely sustained ; a meager plurality vote for the admission of Kan 
sas, under the Topeka constitution, rendered half worthless by an 
embarrassment of the question with an incongruous vote for a 
reorganization of the territorial government ; and an eight months 
struggle for the equal independence of the house of representatives, 
closed with a concession of absolute independence to the senate, by 
consenting to its dictation in a bill directing the supplies for the sup 
port of the civil authorities and the army of the United States. 

Enough of the house of representatives. Come along with me, 
fellow citizens. This passage, circuitous and descending, leads us 
into the chamber of the supreme court of the United States. It is 
an imposing tribunal ; a great conservative department of the govern 
ment. It regulates the administration of justice between citizens of 
the different states, and between states themselves. Its members 
are independent of the legislature and of the president, and it has 
the power of setting aside even laws and treaties, if it find them 
subversive of the constitution of the United States. The court is 
just opened for the business of the day. How fitly does the pro 
clamation of its opening close with the invocation, " God save the 
United States and this honorable court." See, also, how the memories 
of the benefactors of mankind are held in honor here. There is the 
statue of John Jay, the author of emancipation in New York. Alas, 
our imagination has quite deluded us. The court consists of a chief 
justice and eight associate justices. Of these, five were called from 
slave states, and four from free states. The opinions and bias of 
each of them were carefully considered by the president and senate 
when he was appointed. Not one of them was found wanting in 
soundness of politics, according to the slaveholder s exposition of 
the constitution, and those who were called from the free states were 
even more distinguished in that respect than their brethren from the 
slaveholding states. 

We have thus completed our survey of the supreme authorities 
of the republic. Let us now leave the capitol, and look into the 
subordinate departments. 

In this modest edifice is the department of state. It is the deposi 
tory of the seals of the republicf^ Tt^irecte and regulates the merely 
executive operations of government at home, and all its foreign 
relations. Its agents are numbered by the hundred, and they are 

VOL. IV 34 


dispersed in all civilized countries throughout the world. From the 
chief here in his bureau to the secretaries of legation in South 
America, Great Britain, France, Russia, Turkey, and China, there i. 
not one of these agents who has ever rebuked or Condemned the 
extension or aggrandizement of slavery. There is not one who does 
not even defend and justify it. There is not one who does not 
maintain that the flag of the United States covers with its protec 
tion the slaves of the slaveholding class on the high seas. 

In the majestic pile behind this unique but graceful colonnade, sits 
the secretary of the tj^asuiy. He manages the revenues and expen 
ditures of the United States, and guards arid improves their sources, 
commerce and the public lands. Seventy millions of dollars 
annually pass through his hands into those of other public agents, 
contractors, creditors, and foreign powers. He directs the move 
ments of agents who, scattered abroad in all the seaports and in all 
the states and territories, are counted by the thousands. His wand 
contracts or opens banks, and frees or embargoes the merchant ships 
which carry on a trade, domestic and foreign, greater than that which 
any other nation but one has ever maintained. All the national 
revenues are raised in such a way as to favor most the purely agri 
cultural labor of slaves, and to afford the least impulse to the great 
wheel of manufacture, which is turned only by the hands of free 
men. The custom-houses and the public lands pour forth two golden 
streams one into the elections, to procure votes for the slaveholding 
class ; and the other into the treasury, to be enjoyed by those whom 
it shall see fit to reward with places in the public service. 

A walk of half a mile brings us to the portico of a great edifice, 
faultlessly conforming to the best style of Grecian architecture. This 
is the department of the interior, and here is its secretary. He is 
charged with the ministerial part of the administration of justice, 
with the disposition of the public lands, the construction of build 
ings, the granting of patents, and the payment of pensions. His 
agents abound especially in the territories and states, built on the 
public domain. You see them here among yourselves, and know 
them well. Did you ever know one of them whose devotion to the 
slaveholding class could be shaken by any miracle less than that 
which converted Saul of Tarsus, a persecutor of saints, into a 
preacher of righteousness ? 

Merely turning a short corner, we reach the general post office. 


This is the great domiciliary inquisition of the government. It 
reaches, by long arms, with insinuating fingers, every settlement, 
village, city, and state capital, in forest, prairie, mountain, and plain, 
among the lakes and rivers of our own country, and pervades with 
its presence the seas throughout the whole earth. There is not one, 
of its more than twenty thousand agents, who is false to the slave- 
holding interest, unless indeed he is so obscure as to have escaped, 
not merely the notice of the chief of the department itself but also 
the envy of stimulated avarice and ambition in his own neighbor 

A circuit of half a mile has now brought us to the departments of 
" War" and thq ""N^vy " Here two energetic and far-sighted min 
isters, brought from the slaveholding states, and identified with their 
policy, wield the two great physical forces of the republic, each 
ready, on receiving a despatch by telegraph to subdue resistance to- 
reclairnants of fugitive slaves in Boston, to disfranchising statutes in 
Kansas, or to slave coursers on the high seas. 

Finally, in the most unpretending of all the public edifices sits 
the attorney-general of the United States. It belongs to the office 
of an attorney -general to be a willing adviser and cunning execu 
tioner of the policy of the power by whom he was appointed. 
When or where, in all the memorable struggles of liberty with 
prerogative, in this country or in Europe, has this character been 
more successfully illustrated than it has been by the present attorney- 
general, in his efforts to establish the interests of the slaveholding 
class, and crush out its opponents in the free states ? 

Fellow citizens, you start with astonishment at the picture I have 
made, by simply bringing together well-known and familiar, but 
distant, objects into one group, and in a clear lignt. You say that it 
cannot be truthful. I reply, if it be not truthful, then let any one 
here, whatever may be his political bias or associations, point out a 
single figure that is wrongly placed on the canvas, or show a spot 
where the cold and passionless shadowing I have given to it ought 
to be mellowed. 

You are impatient of my theme, but I cannot release you yet. 
Mark, if you please, that thus far I have only shown you the mere 
governmental organization of the slaveholding class in the United 
States, and pointed out its badges of supremacy, suggestive of your 
own debasement and humiliation. Contemplate now the reality of 


the power of that class, and the condition to which the cause of human 
nature has been reduced. In all the free states, the slaveholder 
argues and debates the pretensions of his class, and even prosecutes 
his claim for his slave before the delegate of the federal government, 
with safety and boldness, as he ought. He exhorts the citizens of 
the free states to acquiesce, and even threatens them, in their very 
homes, with the terrors of disunion, if that acquiescence is withheld ; 
and he does all this with safety, as he ought, if it be done at all. 
He is listened to with patience, and replied to with decorum, even 
in his most arrogant declamations, in the halls of congress. Through 
the effective sympathy of other property classes, the slaveholding 
power maintains with entire safety presses and permanent political 
organizations in all the free states. On the contrary, if you except 
the northern border of Delaware, there is nowhere in any slavehold 
ing state personal safety for a citizen, even of that state itself, who 
questions the rightful national domination of the slaveholding class. 
Debate of its pretensions, in the halls of congress, is carried on at 

the perils of limb and life. A free press is no sooner set up in a 
slaveholding state, than it is demolished, and citizens who assemble 
peacefully to discuss even the extremest claims of slavery are at 
first cautioned, and, if that is ineffectual, banished or slain, even 
more surely than the resistants of military despotism in the French 
empire. Nor, except just now, has the case been much better, even 

, in the free states. It is only as of yesterday, when the free citizens, 
assembled to discuss the exactions of the slaveholding class, were 
dispersed in Boston, Utica, Philadelphia, and New York. It is only 

as of yesterday, that when I rose, on request of citizens of Michi 
gan, at Marshall, to speak of the great political questions of the 
day, I was enjoined not to make disturbance or to give offence by 
speaking of free soil, and this was when I was standing as I am now 
on the very ground which the ordinance of 1787 had saved to free- 

1 dom. It was only as of yesterday, that protestant churches and 
theological seminaries, built on Puritan foundations, vied with the 
organs of the slaveholding class in denouncing a legislator who, in 
the act of making laws affecting its interests, declared that all human 
laws ought to be conformed to the standard of eternal justice. The 
day has even not yet passed when the press, employed in the service 
of education and morality, expurgates from the books which are 
put into the hands of the young all reflections on slavery. The 


day yet lasts when the flag of the United States flaunts defiance on 
the high seas, over cargoes of human merchandise. Nor is there an 
American representative anywhere, in any one of the four quarters 
of the globe, that does not labor to suppress even there the discus 
sion of American slavery, lest it may possibly affect the safety of 
the slaveholding class at home. If, in a generous burst of sympathy 
with the struggling protestant democracy of Europe, we bring off 
the field one of their fallen champions, to condole with and comfort 
him, we suddenly discern that the mere agitation of the principles 
of freedom tends to alarm the slaveholding class, and we cast him 
off again as a waif, not merely worthless, but dangerous to ourselves. 
The natural and ancient order of things is reversed ; (freedom hasV 
become subordinate, sectional, and local ; slavery in its influences ] 
and combinations has become predominant, national, and general. 
Free, direct, and manly utterance in the cause of freedom, even in 
the free states themselves, leads to ostracism, while superservice- 
ability to the slaveholding class alone secures preferment in the 
national councils. The descendants of Franklin, and Hamilton, and 
Jay, and King, are unprized 

" till they learn to betray, 

Undistinguish d they live, if they shame not their sires, 

And the torch that would light them to dignity s way, 
Must be caught from the pile when their country expires." 

In this course of rapid public demoralization, what wonder is it 
that the action of the government tends continually with fearfully 
augmenting force to the aggrandizement of the slaveholding class ? 
A government can never be better or wiser f or even so 

wise as the P eQ PJg_gve5 whom it presides ? Who can wonder, then, 
that the congress of the United States, in 1820, gave to slavery the ;? 
west bank of the Mississippi quite up to the present line of Kansas, . 
and was content to save for freedom, out of the vast region of . 
Louisiana, only Kansas and Nebraska ? Who can wonder that itj> 
consented to annex and admit Texas, with power to subdivide her 
self into five slave states, so as to secure the slaveholding class a 
balance against the free states then expected to be ultimately organ 
ized in Kansas and Nebraska? Who can wonder, that when this 
annexation of Texas brought on a war with Mexico, which ended 
in the annexation of Upper California and New Mexico, every foot 


of which was free from African slavery, congress divided that vast 
territory, admitting the new state of California reluctantly as a free 
state, oecause she would not consent to establish slavery, dismem 
bered New Mexico, transferred a large portion of it to slaveholding 
Texas, and stipulated that what remained of New Mexico, together 
with Utah, should be received as slave states, if the people thereof 
should so demand ? Who can wonder that the president, without 
any reproof by congress, simultaneously offered to Spain two hun 
dred millions of dollars for the purchase of Cuba, that it might be 
divided into two slaveholding states, to be admitted as members of 
the Federal Union, and at the same time menaced the European 
powers with war if they should interfere to prevent the consumma 
tion of the purchase? Who can wonder that, emboldened with 
these concessions of the people, congress at last sanctioned a reprisal 
by the slaveholding class upon the regions of Kansas and Nebraska, 
not on the ground of justice or for an equivalent, but simply on the 
pretence that the original concession of them to freedom was ex 
torted by injustice and unconstitutional oppression by the free 
states ? Who can wonder that the slaveholding class, when it had 
obtained the sanction of congress to that reprisal, by giving a pledge 
that the people of those territories should be perfectly free never 
theless to establish freedom therein, invaded the territory of Kansas 
with armed forces, inaugurated a usurpation, and established slavery 
there, and disfranchised the supporters of freedom by tyrannical laws, 
enforced by fire and sword, and that the president and senate now 
maintain and uphold the slaveholding interests in these culminating 
demonstrations of their power, while the house of representatives 
lacks the power, because it is wanting in the virtue, to rescue the 
interests of justice, freedom, and humanity? Who can wonder that 
federal courts in Massachusetts indict defenders of freedom for sedi- 
tition, and in Pennsylvania subvert the state tribunals, and pervert 
the habeas corpus, the great writ of liberty, into a process for arrest 
ing fugitive slaves, and construe into contempt, punishable by 
imprisonment without bail or mainprize, the simple and truthful 
denial of personal control over a fugitive female slave, who has 
made her own voluntary escape from bondage T Who can wonder 
tjmt in_Kansas lawyers may not plead or juries be impanneled in 

1 See Memoir, ante, page 36. 


the federal courts, nor can even citizens vote, without first swearing 
to support the fugitive slave lawjindLthe Kansas* and Nebraska act, 
"wEile citizens ^who discuss through the press the right of slavehold 
ers to domineer there, are punished with imprisonment or death; 
free bridges over which citizens who advocate free institutions, may 
pass, free taverns where they may rest, and free presses through 
which they may speak, are destroyed under indictments for nuisances ; 
and those who peacefully assemble to debate the grievances of that 
class, and petition congress for relief, are indicted for high treason ? 

Just now, the wind sets with some apparent steadiness in the 
north, and you will readily confess therefore that I do not exagge 
rate the growing aggrandizement of the slaveholding class, but jou_ 
will nevertheless insist that that aggrandizement is now and L jnay be 
merely temporary and occasional. A moment s reflection, however, 
will satisfy you that this opinion is^jofoum^l^^tmeT^Wnatis 
now seen is only the legitimate maturing of errors unresisted 
through a period of nearly forty years. All the fearful evils now 
upon us are only the inevitable results of efforts to extinguish, by 
delays, concession, and compromises, a discussion to which justice, 
reason, and humanity, are continually lending their elemental fires. 

What, then, is the tendency of this aggrandizement of the slave in 
terest, and what must be its end. if it be not now or speedily arrested ? 
Immediate consequences are distinctly in view. The admission of C 
Kansas into the Union as a slave state, the subsequent introduction 
of slavery by means equally flagrant into Nebraska, and the admjs- 
sion of Utah _jwith- the twin, patriarchal institutions of legalized 
adultery and slav^ty T and these three achievements crowned with the 
incorporation of Cuba into the republic. Beyond these visible fields 
lies a region of fearful speculation the restoration of the Airican 
slave trade, and the desecration of all Mexico and Central America, 
by the infliction upon the half-civilized Spanish and Indian races 
dwelling there, by our hands, of a curse from which, inferior as they 
are to ourselves, they have had the virtue once to redeem themselves. 
Beyond this area last surveyed lies that of civil and servile wars^ 
national decline and nmNT~ 

I fear to open up these distant views, because I know that you 
will attribute my apprehensions to a morbid condition of mind. But 
confining myself to the immediate future which is so fearfully palpa 
ble, I ask you in all candor, first, whether I have ever before 


exaggerated the aggrandizement of the slaveholding class. Secondly, 
whether the movement that I now forbode is really more improbable 
than the evils once seemed, which are now a startling reality. 

How are these immediate evils, and whatever of greater evils that 
are behind them, to be prevented? Do you expect that those who 
have heretofore counseled compromise, acquiescence, and submis 
sion, will change their course, and come to the rescue of liberty? 
Even if this were a reasonable hope, are Cass, and Douglas, and 
Buchanan, greater or better than the statesmen who have opened 
the way of compromise, and led these modern statesmen into it? 
And if they indeed are so much greater and so much better, do you 
expect them to live forever ? 

Perhaps you expect the slaveholding class will abate its pretension, 
and practice voluntarily the moderation which you wish, but dare 
not demand at its hands. How long, and with what success, have 
you waited already for that reformation ? Did any property class 
ever so reform itself ? Did the patricians in old Eome, the noblesse 
or the clergy in France ? the landholders in Ireland ? the landed aris 
tocracy in England? Does the slaveholding class even seek to 
beguile you with such a hope ? Has it not become rapacious, arro 
gant, defiant? Is it not waging civil war against freedom, wherever 
it encounters real resistance ? No ! no ! you have let the lion and 
the spotted leopard into the sheep-fold. They certainly will not die 
of hunger there, nor retire from disgust with satiety. They will 
remain there so long as renewed appetite shall find multiplied prey. 
Be not self-deceived. Whenever a property class of any ^Tvj_jft_ 
in vitejjj^ society to oppress T it will continue^ to oppress. 5OieiL- 
eyer a slavekoldiug class finds the nQn--fi1aveholding classes yielding 
it will continue its, work of subjugation. 

People of Michigan, I know full well that it seems ungracious in 
me to dwell on this painful theme. It is not such an acknowledg 
ment of your manifold hospitalities as you expected. It is hard for 
the weary mariner to look steadily on the newly revealed rocks 
toward which he has too long been carelessly drifting. It is not easy 
for the prodigal to look with contentment on the rags and husks 
which meet him as he retires from the house of his harlotry. Never 
theless, there is no way of escaping any imminent danger, without 
first calmly and steadily looking it fully in the face and ascertaining 
its real nature and magnitude. 


Here again you will deny the justice of my parallels ; you will 
claim to be merely innocent and unfortunate, and will upbraid the 
slaveholding class as the builders of this impending ruin. But you 
cannot escape in that way. The fault is not at all with that class, 
but with yourselves. The slaveholders only act according to their 
constitutions, education and training. It is the non-slaveholding 
classes in the free states who are recreant to their own constitutions, 
and false to their own instincts and impulses, and even to their own 
true interests. Who taught the slaveholding class that freedom, 
which could not be wholly conquered at once, could be yielded in 
successive halves by successive compromises? Who taught the 
slaveholding class the specious theories of non-intervention and 
popular sovereignty, and the absolute obligation of tyrannical laws 
enacted by armed usurpation ? Your own Cass, and Douglas, and 
Pierce, and Buchanan. Who established Cass, Douglas, Pierce and 
Buchanan at Washington, and gave them the power to march the>r 
slaveholding armies into Kansas ? The non-slaveholding society in 
the free states, and no portion of that society more willingly and 
more recklessly than you, the people of Michigan. 

You admit all this, and you ask how are these great evils, now so 
apparent, to be corrected these great dangers, now so manifest, to 
be avoided. I answer, it is to be done, not as some of you have ? 
supposed, by heated debates sustained by rifles or revolvers at - 
Washington, nor yet by sending armies with supplies and Sharpe s J- 
rifles into Kansas ; I condemn no necessary exercise of the right of 
self-defence anywhere. Public safety is necessary to the practice of the 
real duties of champions of freedom. But this is a contest in which the 
race is not to the physically swift, nor the battle to those who have most 
muscular strength. ^Least of all is it to be won by retaliation and. 
revengey The victory will be to those who shall practise the highest 
moral courage, with. simple fidelity to the princirjles of humanity 
and justice. Notwithstanding all the heroism of your champions in 
Washington and Kansas, the contest will be fearfully endangered if 
the slaveholding class shall win the president and the congress in 
this great national canvass. Even although every one of these \ 
champions should perish in his proper field, yet the rights of man \ 
will be saved, and the tide of oppression will be rolled back from 
our northern plains, if a president and a congress shall be chosen ] 

who are true to freedom. The people, and the people only, are J 
VOL. IV. 35 / 


/sovereign and irresistible, whether they will the ascendancy of sla- 
\very, or the triumph of liberty. 

Harsh as my words may have seemed, I do my kinsmen and 
brethren of the free states no such injustice as to deny that great 
allowances are to be made for the demoralization I have described. 
We inherited complicity with the slaveholding class, and with it 
prejudices of caste. We inherited confidence and affection toward 
our southern brethren and with these, our political organizations 
and our profound reverence for political authorities, all adverse to 
the needful discussion of slavery. Above all, we inherited a fear of 
the dissolution of the Union, which can only be unwholesome when 
it ceases equally to affect the conduct of all the great parties to that 
sacred compact. All these inheritances have created influences upon 
our political conduct, which are rather to be deplored than con 
demned. I trust that at last these influences are about to cease. I 
trust so, because, if we have inherited the demoralization of slavery, 
we have also attained the virtue required for emancipation. If we 
have inherited prejudices of caste, we have also risen to the know 
ledge that political safety is dependent on the rendering of equal and 
exact justice to all men. And if we have suffered our love for the 
Union to be abused so as to make us tolerate the evils that more 
than all others endanger it, we have discerned that great error at 
last. If we should see a citizen, who had erected a noble edifice, sit 
down inactively in its chambers, avoiding all duty and enterprise, 
lest he might provoke enemies to pull it down over his head ; or one 
who had built a majestic vessel, moor it to the wharf, through fear 
that he might peradventure run it upon the rocks, we should con 
demn his fatuity and folly. We have learned at last that the Ameri 
can people labor not only under the responsibility of preserving this 
Union, but also under the responsibility of making it subserve the 
advancement of justice and humanity, and that neglect of this last re 
sponsibility involves the chief peril to which the Union itself is exposed. 

I shall waste little time on the newly -invented apologies for con 
tinued demoralization. The question now to be decided is, whether 
a slaveholding class exclusively shall govern America, or whether 
it shall only bear divided sway with non-slaveholding citizens. 
It concerns all persons equally, whether they are protestants or 
catholics, native-born or exotic citizens. And therefore it seems to 
me that this is no time for trials of strength between the native-born 


and the adopted freemen, or between any two branches of one com 
mon Ch ristian brotherhood. 

As little shall I dwell on merely personal partialities or prejudices 
affecting the candidates for public trusts. Each fitly personates the 
cause he represents. Beyond a doubt, Mr. Buchanan is faithful to 
the slaveholding class, as Mr. Fillmore vascillates between it and its 
opponents. I Vrmw IVf r FrpTnqnt_well ; and when I say that I know 
that he combines extraordinary genius and unquestionable sincerity 
of pnrpnsp.^ with nnnqual modesty, I am sure that you will admit < 
that he is a true representative of the cause of freedom. 

Discarding sectionalism, and loving my country and all its parts, 
and bearing an affection even to the slaveholding class, none the less 
sincere because it repels me, I cordially adopt the motto which it 
too often hangs out to delude us. I know no north, no south, no 
east and no west ; for I know that he who would offer an acceptable 
sacrifice in the present crisis must conform himself to the divine f 
instructions, that neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, I 
shall we worship the Father ; but the hour cometh, and now is, when / 
the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth,. 

Last of all, I stop not to argue with those who decry agitation and 
extol conservatism, not knowing that conservatism is of two kinds 
that one which, yielding to cowardly fear of present inconvenience 
or danger, covers even political leprosy with protecting folds ; and 
that other and better conservatism, that heals, in order that the body 
of the commonwealth may be healthful and immortal. 

Fellow citizens, I am aware that I have spoken with seriousness 
amounting to solemnity. Do not infer from thence that I am despon 
dent and distrustful of present triumph and ultimate regeneration. 
It has required a strong pressure upon the main-spring of the public 
virtue to awaken its elasticity. Such pressure has reached the center 
of the spring at last. They who have reckoned that its elasticity 
was lost, are now discovering their profound mistake. The people 
of the United States have dallied long with the flowers of the acac- 
tus, and floated carelessly on the calm seas that always reflect summer 
skies, but they have not lost their preference for their own change 
less fleur de Us, and they consult no other guidance, in their course 
over the waters, than that of their own bright, particular and con 
stant star, the harbinger of liberty. 




AUBURN, OCTOBER 21, 1856. 

are neighbors and friends. We know each other well. I 
know that you are sincere, and you know, as I trust, that I am a 
man of not ungrateful disposition. We have a common memory of 
many long and inclement political storms through which we have 
passed, not altogether without occasional alienations and separations. 
You, therefore, can readily conceive, without amplification on my part, 
how profoundly gratifying it is to me now to see not only a general 
brightening of the skies, auspicious of the triumph of the political 
principles which I have cherished through so many trials, but also 
troops and crowds and clouds of friends, more numerous, more ear 
nest and more confiding than those by whom I was surrounded in 
the most successful and happiest periods of my earlier life. 

If politics were indeed, as many seem to suppose, merely an uncer 
tain sea, bounded on all sides by rich ports and havens tempting 
private adventure, I should not be one of those who, standing on 
the beach, would be inciting my fellow citizens to commit them 
selves on board this party craft or of the other. If politics were, as 
others seem to think, merely a game cunningly compounded of 
courage, accident and skill, in which prizes and crowns were to be 
won by the victors for their own glory and the excitement of the 
multitude, I certainly should not be found among the heralds of the 
contestants on either side. If, again, politics were only a forum in 
which social theories, without immediate bearing on the welfare and 
safety of the country, were discussed, I might then be a listener, but 
I should not be a disputant. 

But, although politics present these aspects to superficial obser 
vers, they are nevertheless far more serious and practical in their real 
character. They are the regulation and direction of the actual life 
of the American people. How much of individual, domestic and 


social happiness depends on the regulation and conduct of only one 
single human life ! How vastly more of human happiness depends 
then on the regulation and conduct of the whole nation s thousand 
fold longer life ! 

Since I have come before you on this occasion under the influence 
of these sentiments, you will not expect from me either humorous, 
exaggerated, passionate or prejudiced speech, but will rather calcu 
late on an examination of the merits of candidates for public favor, 
and of the parties by whom those candidates are respectively sustained. 

It is not my habit to speak largely of candidates. I refrain for 
two reasons ; First, because being necessarily brought into personal 
combination or conflict with public men, my judgment concerning 
them is liable to the bias of partiality or of jealousy; secondly, 
because it is not the habit of parties in our country to select unfit, 
unworthy or unreliable men to be their representatives. Whatever 
may be the personal merits or demerits of a candidate, he cannot 
act otherwise, if he be chosen, than as an agent of the majority to 
whom he owes his place. The real question, therefore, in every 
canvass, is, what are the merits of a party by whom a candidate is 
preferred? and inquiries concerning the personal characters and 
dispositions of candidates are wasted on a false and delusive issue. 
You can try the truth of this position at once, by inquiring of 
whomsoever assails the candidate of your choice, whether he would 
give his support to that candidate, abandoning his own, if all his 
objections could at once be removed. Your opponent, if a candid 
man, would probably answer in the negative. 

But the case is quite different with political parties or masses of 
citizens. A nation acts at any one time through the consent and 
activity, not of all its members, but of only a majority, who deter 
mine what shall be done, not only for themselves, but for all the citi 
zens. By our individual suffrages, we express our choice whether 
one class of citizens, with a peculiar policy and peculiar principles, 
shall rule the country directing it in a course of their own, or whether 
a different mass with different policy and principles shall conduct it 
in a different direction. I shall therefore discuss the existing parties 
freely. You shall judge whether I perform this duty with modera 
tion and candor. 

In the first place, I must ask you to notice the fact that society is 
now in a transition state or stage so far as political parties are con- 


cerned. Two or three years ago, the American people were divided 
into two well denned, distinct and organized parties, the whigs and 
the democrats. To-day, instead of these two parties, we see three 
masses uncertainly denned, and apparently at least quite unorganized, 
namely, Americans, democrats and republicans ; and we see portions 
of each of these easily detached and passing over to the others, while 
a very considerable number of citizens stand hesitating whether to 
join one or the other, or to stand aloof still longer from all. 

Such a transition stage, although unusual, is not unnatural. Estab 
lished parties are built on certain policies and principles, and they 
will stand and remain so long as those policies and principles are of 
paramount importance and no longer. 

They must break asunder and dissolve when new exigencies bring 
up new and different policies and principles, and the transition stage 
will last until the paramount importance of these new policies and 
principles shall be generally felt and confessed, and no longer. 

In a healthy and vigorous republic, the transition stage I have 
described cannot last long, because in the absence of a firm and de 
cided majority to direct its course, its would fall under the manage 
ment of feeble and corrupt factions, under whose sway it would 
rapidly decline, and speedily perish. Our republic, God be thanked, 
is yet healthy and vigorous, and we already see that society is pass 
ing out of the transition stage into the ancient and proper condi 
tion. This condition is one which tolerates two firm and enduring 
parties, no less and no more. There must be two parties, because at 
every stage of national life some one question of national conduct par 
amount to all others, presents itself to be decided. Such a question 
always has two sides, a right side and a wrong side, but no third or 
middle side. All masses which affect neutrality, as well as all 
masses which seek to stand independently on questions which have 
already passed and become obsolete, or on questions which have not 
yet attained paramount importance, are crowded and crushed in the 
conflicts between the two which occupy, for the time being, the 
whole field of contest. 

If such an emergency has now occurred presenting a vital ques 
tion, on which society must divide into two parties, and if those par 
ties are found already present in the political arena, then we are now 
individually to decide whether to identify ourselves with a mass 
which will exist "iselessly for only a short period ; or unite with one 


of two parties which will be enduring, and on the fortunes of whose 
conflict depends the welfare of the republic ; and as between these 
parties whether we shall attach ourselves to the party which will 
maintain the wrong and perish with it, or to that which shall main 
tain the right and immediately or ultimately triumph with it. 

You yourselves, shall prove by your responses that emergency 
has occurred, and that question is upon us. What has producecLthe__ 
disorgqjiization and confusion which we have all seen and wondered 
at, the dissolution of the whig party, and the disorganization of the 
democratic party, and given room and verge for the American or 
know-nothing party? You all answer, the agitation of slavery. 
And you answer truly. Answer again. What shall I discourse 
upon? The contest of the American colonies with Great Britain, 
and the characters of the whigs and tories ? No, that is a subject 
for the fourth of July. The adoption of the constitution, and the 
disputes between federalists and republicans ? No, let them sleep. 
The tariff, National Bank and internal improvements, and the con 
troversies of the whigs and democrats ? No, they are past and gone. 
What then, of Knnsp,?, the admission of Kmisas ns a firo s^nte or a 
slave state, the extension of slavery in the territories of the United 
States ? Ah, yes, that is the theme, the extension of slavery, and 
nothing else. Now of what is it that the Americans in the north 
and in the south are debating in their councils, so far as their debates 
are suffered to transpire? The abrogation and restoration of the 
Missouri compromise and nothing else. The democrats also in the 
north and south, they speak of nothing else but saving the Union 
from destruction, by means of suppressing this very debate about 
the extension of slavery. 

Isjthis question about the extension of slavery new^ unreal, and 
imaginary, the mere illusion of an hour ? Is it a wind that " bloweth 
where it listeth and thou hearest the sound thereof, but cannot tell 
whence it cometh and whither it goeth." No, it. is. an ancignt and 
eternal conflict between_twq entirel^^ntn,pni^9_sy^ma of human ~JL_ 
labor existing in American society, not unequal in their forces; a 
conflict for not merely toleration, but for absolute political sway in the 
republic, between the system of free labor with equal and universal 
suffrage, free speech free thought, and free action, and the system of 
slave labor with unequal franchises secured by arbitrary, oppressive 
and tyrannical laws. It is as old as the republic itself, although it has 


never ripened before. It presented itself when the constitution was 
adopted, and was only temporarily repressed by a compromise which 
allowed to slaveholding communities three votes for every five 
slaves, while it provided at the same time for the abolition of the 
African slave trade. It presented itself in the continental congress 
of 1787, and was then put aside only by the passage of the ordinance 
of 1787, dedicating all the northwest territory to free labor. It 
occurred again in 1820, threatening to distract the Union, as was 
thought, and was then again put to rest by another compromise 
which relinquished Missouri to slave labor, and gave over the terri 
tory which now constitutes Kansas and Nebraska to free labor. It 
occurred again in 1844, when Texas was annexed and was put to 
sleep for only a short space by the division of Texas, very unequally 
indeed, into slave soil and free soil. It arose again during the war 
with Mexico, and was quieted by the memorable compromise of 
1850, whose details I need not repeat. It occurred again in 1854, 
on the opening of Kansas and Nebraska territories to civilization, 
and was attempted to be put to sleep once more by the adoption in 
congress of the specious delusion of popular sovereignty. The 
question that is so old, has presented itself so often and never with 
out disturbing, as it seemed, the very foundations of society, and 
that has deranged and disorganized all the political combinations of 
the country, fortified as they were by so many interests, ambitions, 
and traditions, must be confessed to be a real and enduring if not a 
vital question. But a moment s examination will serve to satisfy 
you that it is also a vital question. It is really one in which the 
parties are a sectional, local class of slaveholders, standing on the 
unnatural principle of property in human beings, on the one side, 
and the greater mass of society on the other, who, whether from 
choice or necessity, are not, cannot, and will not be either slaves or 
the owners of slaves. 

It is a question between a small minority which cannot even 
maintain itself, except by means of continually increasing conces 
sions and new and more liberal guarantees, and a majority that 
could never have been induced to grant even any guaranties except 
by threats of disunion and that can expect no return for new and 
further concessions and guaranties, but increasing exactions and 
ultimate aggressions or secessions. The slaveholders can never be 
content without dominion which abridges personal freedom as well 


as circumscribes the domain of the non-slaveholding freemen. Non- 
slaveholding freemen can never permanently submit to such domin 
ion. Nor can the competition or contention cease, for the reason 
that the general conscience of mankind throws its weight on the 
side of freedom and presses onward the resistants to oppose the 
solicitations and aggressions of the slaveholding class. Heretofore 
opposing political combinations long established, and firmly en 
trenched in traditions and popular affections, have concurred in the 
policy of suppressing this great and important question, but they 
have broken under its pressure at last. Henceforth, the antagonistical 
elements will be left to clash without hindrance. Heretofore the 
broad field of the national territories allowed each of the contending 
interests ample room without coming into direct conflict with the 
other. Henceforth, the two interests will be found contending for 
common ground claimed by both, and which can be occupied only 
by one of them. 

One other condition remains to be settled, namelj 3 that.JJiig_great__ 
question is .imminent andjirgent ; in other words^ tbaLiLrnnst, be 
settled and determined without further postponement or delay.. 
How can it bej&irther postponed ? If it could be postponed at all, 

^2 ^^2--^-^5>-2- ^i- >- Z--*- 

it could be only by the same means which have been used success 
fully for that purpose heretofore, namely, compromise. Where are 
the agents for new compromises? The agents of the past com 
promises are gone. Although they sleep in honored graves, and the 
mourners over them have not yet quitted the streets, no new com 
promisers arise to occupy their places. A compromise involves 
mutual equivalents, something^to give and^sojiipthinr to -take in 
exchange. Will slavery give you anything? No, it insists on _a_ 
free right to all the territories. What have you to give in exchange? 
When you have given up Kansas, you will have relinquished all 
the territories, for the principle of the relinquishment is that 
slavery may constitutionally take them all. When compromise_Jg_^y 
exhausted, what follows ? Dispute, contention, contest, conflict 

No~!~tKe question is imminent ? and must be met now. Kansas, at 
the last session of congress, voluntarily offered itself as a free state, 
and demanded to be admitted into the Union, and was rejected. 
Since that time, the territory has been subjugated by slaveholders, 
and they having usurped its sovereignty, are organizing a slave state 
there which will apply for admission into the Union at the next 

VOL. IV. 36 


session of congress. Utah, already organized as a slave state, with 
her incestuous social system, is lying concealed and waiting, ready to 
demand admission so soon as Kansas shall have been received into 
the Union. The adoption of both, or even one, of these states will 
bear innuentially, perhaps conclusively, on the fortunes of the entire 
conflict between freedom and slavery. 

Insomuch as the question that is henceforth to divide society into 
two parties, is thus seen to be a vital and imminent one, let us fully 
possess ourselves of its magnitude. We have a sluggish, turbid and 
desolating stream of slave labor issuing from fifteen slave states. 
We have an ever increasing volume of free labor issuing from 
sixteen free states, swollen by a stream scarcely less full, from 
European and Asiatic fountains. These two variant floods cannot 
be mingled, but one necessarily repels and excludes the other. We 
have half a continent yet to be opened to the flow of the one or of 
the other. Shall we diffuse slavery over it to react upon and destroy 
ourselves, or shall we extend freedom over it covering it with hap 
piness throughout all its mountains and plains, and thus forever 
establish our own safety and happiness ? 

If this great question were disembarrassed of all personal and 
partisan interests and prejudices, the universal voice of the American 
people would be pronounced for freedom and against slavery. Free 
dom is nothing more than equality of political right or power 
among all the members of a state. It is natural, just, useful and 
beneficent. All men instinctively choose the side on which these 
advantages lie. How true this is you may infer from the fact that 
every one of the banners borne to this field by one of the great con 
tending masses wears as its inscription a tribute to freedom, while 
no banner borne by either of the other parties is ever defiled with 
homages to slavery. 

Nevertheless, while all avow themselves favorable to freedom, we 
have to choose between the three political masses, the one which 
will effectually secure its predominance in the republic. 
, Shall we join ourselves to the know-nothing or American organ- 
ization ? What are its creed and its polic} - ? Its creed is that the 
political franchises of alien immigrants and Roman catholics in our 
country are too great, and its policy is to abridge them. 

Now I might for argument s sake concede that this creed and this 
policy are just and wise, still I could not unite with the know- 


nothings even in that case, because their movement is out of season 
and out of place. The question of Jhejday.Jajopt_ about natives and 
foreigners, nor about protestants and JRpman catholics, but about 
freemen and slaves. " The practical and immediately urgent question 
is, shall Kansas be admitted into the Union as a free state, or shall 
she be made a slave state and so admitted. "What have the fran 
chises of alien immigrants and Roman catholics to do with that ? 
If the American people declare for freedom, Kansas will be free. 
If the American people declare for slavery, Kansas will be a slave 
state. If the American people divide and one portion, being a 
minority, declare for freedom ; while another portion, being also a 
minority, declare against foreigners and catholics ; and a third, larger 
than either, declare for slavery, nothing is obtained against foreigners 
and catholics, nothing against slavery, and yet Kansas becomes a 
slave state. Thus it is apparent that the issue raised by the know- 
nothings, whatever may be its merit, is an immaterial, irrelevant and 
false issue. A false issue always tends to divert and mislead the 
people from the true one, and of course to prejudice the judgment 
to be rendered upon it. I do not accuse the know-nothings of 
designing so to mislead, because, first, I know nothing of the mo 
tives of others ; and, secondly, because the question is never upon 
motives but always upon effects. What have been the effects thus 
far? The know-nothing members of congress divided between the 
advocates of freedom in the territories and its opponents. Their 
votes combined with either party would have given it a complete 
triumph. Those votes reserved and cast as some peculiar interest 
dictated have left the question of freedom in Kansas to the ordeal 
of the sword in civil strife. 

What is the effect upon the present canvass on which depends the 
question of the admission of Kansas and of Utah as slave states in the 
next congress ? Distraction of the public mind. Such effects are 
inevitable. Whoever seeks to interpose an unreal or false issue 
must necessarily, in order to gain even a hearing, affect neutrality on 
the real one. At the same time no party can practice neutrality 
on a vital issue with fairness. It will necessarily sympathise with 
the weaker of the two contestants, and in some degree cooperate 
with it to overthrow the stronger, which is the common adversary 
of both. Of course, as the two great contestants exhibit unequal 
strength in different states, it will favor one in some of the states, 


and favor the other in other states. By virtue of a law that is irre 
sistible, it will sooner or later betray each party when its own pecu 
liar ends require that course. The experience of the whig and 
democratic parties has proved how impossible it is to practise neu 
trality on the great question of slavery. The former has broken 
into pieces and perished in the effort. The latter has been crowded 
from a neutral position, and with crumbled ranks has taken that of 
the extension and fortification of slavery. The know-nothing mass 
can expect no better success. The effort will cost its life. Crowded 
and jostled between the two combatants, it will and must dissolve, 
giving up portions of its men here to freedom and there to slavery, 
but possibly not until it is too late to secure the triumph of freedom. 
Thus you see that the know-nothing mass is not really a political 
party. It is only an ephemeral and evanescent faction, as useless 
and as injurious as a third blade in the shears, or a third stone which 
an ignorant artizan might attempt to gear in between the upper and 
the nether millstone. 

By another sign you shall know it to be not a party but a faction. 
From the day of the landing of the Pilgrims at Plymouth until now, 
every one of the great parties which have been engaged in directing 
the life of the American people has recognized, from necessity, the 
political system which exists and which must continue to exist here 
as a republican one, based on the principles of the rightful political 
equality of all the members of the state, and has acted on the prin 
ciple that directness, publicity and equality of voices are necessary 
in the conduct of public affairs. The know-nothings reject these 
principles, and seek to exclude a large and considerable portion of 
the members of the state from all participation in the conduct of its 
affairs, and to obtain control and carry on the operations of the gov 
ernment of all by secret machinery inconsistent with the constitution 
of a republic, and appropriate only to a conspiracy either for or 
against despotism. It will, I think, be hereafter regarded as one of 
the caprices of politics that a system of combination so puerile was 
ever attempted in the United States. The absurdity of the attempt 
is rendered still more glaring when it is considered that the grounds 
of persecution assumed against the class to be excluded are those of 
nativity and religious belief grounds directly in conflict with that 
elementary truth announced by the Declaration of Independence, 
that all men are created equal, and are by nature endowed with cer- 


tain inalienable rights, to secure which governments are instituted 
among men ; and with that fundamental article of the constitution 
which declares that no system of religion shall ever be established. 

Who, then, will choose to enroll himself under the banner of an 
ephemeral, evanescent and injurious faction like this, to be compro 
mised in its frauds for a day or a year, or two years, and then to be 
left by it to the pity and scorn of the nation whose confidence it had 
sought to abuse ? Certainly, no one who values at its just worth the 
great interests of freedom and humanity, which are staked on the 
present contest, nor even any one who values at its just worth his own 
influence, or even his own vote, or his own character as a citizen. 

Our choice between parties, fellow citizens, is thus connned to the 
democratic and rgfijiblican parties._ On what principle could we 
attach ourselves to the democratic party ? Let us look full in the 
face the actual state of things. Seven years ago, when I entered 
congress as a senator from this state, there was not one acre of soil 
within the national domain from which slavery was not excluded by 
law. It was excluded from Minnesota by the ordinance of 1787, 
which was then of fully acknowledged obligation and effect. It was 
excluded from Kansas and Nebraska by the Missouri compromise 
restriction, which also was then in full effect. It was equally excluded 
from California, including New Mexico and Utah, by Mexican laws 
which had never been impaired, and were of confessed obligation. 

It was excluded from Oregon by the organic law of that territory. 
Now there is not an acre of the public domain which congress has 
not opened to the entrance of slavery. It has expressly abrogated 
the Missouri compromise, on the ground that it was void, for want 
of power in congress under the constitution to exclude slavery, and 
also on the ground that the compromise of 1850 had already settled 
its invalidity. This legislation, if acquiesced in by the people, and 
so confirmed, will henceforth be irresistibly claimed as abrogating 
alike the ordinance of 1787, the Missouri compromise restriction, and 
the organic law of Oregon, and the Mexican laws. Thus the whole 
of the territories has been already lost to freedom by the legislation 
of the last seven years , and the controversy before us is one not to 
save, but to reclaim. During the first six years of that period, there 
were only two parties the democratic and the whig parties in 
congress and in the country. During the last year there were three, 
the democratic, know-nothing and republican parties. Every one 


will at once acquit the republican party, and those who now consti 
tute it, of all agency in the betrayal and surrender of freedom which 
have thus been made. The responsibility for them, therefore, belongs 
to the democratic party and to the whig party. Now you may 
divide this responsibility between the democratic and whig parties, 
just as you like. The whig party has perished under its weight, 
but a still greater responsibility lies upon the democratic party. It 
was the democratic party that refused to admit California, without 
condition or compromise, in 1850 ; that forced on the whig party the 
compromise of that year, and adopted it as its own permanent policy, 
and elected Franklin Pierce the present president of the United 
States. It was the democratic joarty that invented the new, plausible, 
deceptive and ruinous policy of abnegation of federal authority over 
slavery in the territories, and the suBstitution of the theory of popu- 

/ "lar sovereignty^; arid- it was thie democratic party that,_with the 
cooperation of a portion of the know-nothings, rejected the appeal 
of oppressed and" subjugated Kansas for relief and restoration to 
freedom, by admission into the Union as a free state. The demo 
cratic party did, indeed, in some of its conventions in northern states, 
for a time hesitate to commit itself to the policy of slavery propagand- 
isrn by breach of public faith, fraud and force, but it has finally re 
nounced all resistance, and it now stands boldly forth, avowing its 
entire approval of that odious and ruinous determination to carry it 
to its end, whatever that end may be. 

Nor will any candid person claim that anything better is to be 
$ hoped from the democratic party in the future. It is a party_essen- 

/-tially built on tfrf. intftr^pt of the slaveholding clas&.. Deprived of 
vthat support, it would instantly cease to exist. The principle of this 
fck class is, that property in man is sanctioned by the constitution of the 
\ United States and is inviolate. All that has been won by this class 
from freedom, has been won on that principle. The decisions of 
Judge Kane and other federal judges, and the odious and tyrannical 
laws of the usurpers in Kansas, are legitimate fruits of that principle- 
To that principle the democratic party must adhere or perish, and it 
accepts it as the least fearful of two alternatives. But the principle, 
when established in the territories, will then be with equal plausi 
bility extended to the states, and thenceforward we are to contend for 
the right of the free states to exclude slavery within their own bor 


If-t^ese arguments be sound, we are shut up to the necessity of 
rt, to the republican party T as the only means of 

maintaining the cause of freedom and humanity. Why, then, shall 
we stand aloof from it, in this election, or for a day or an hour ? I 
will review the argument urged from all quarters, and you shall see 
in the first place that every one of them is frivolous and puerile ; 
and, secondly, that it involves nothing less than a surrender of the 
entire question in issue, and acquiescence in the unrestricted domina 
tion of slavery. 

First: We are conjured by those who, in Boston, New York and 
elsewhere, call themselves straight-out whigs, to wait for a reorgani 
zation of the national whig party, to rescue the cause of freedom. 
But is it written in any book of political revelation that a resurrec 
tion on this earth awaits parties which have fulfilled the course of 
nature ? 

Secondly: The whig party perished through a lack of virtue to 
maintain the cause of freedom. Amongst all of those who are wait 
ing and praying for its resurrection, there is not one that to-day 
yields his support to that cause. What, then, but new betrayals can 
be expected, if it is destined to a resurrection ? 

We are told on all sides that the republican party is new and 
partially organized, and merely experimental. It is, indeed, new, 
and as yet imperfectly organized. But so once was the ancient 
whig party, that gave to the country independence. So once was 
the federal party, that gave to the country its constitution. So once 
was the* ancient republican party, that gave to the country a complete 
emancipation of the masses from the combination of classes. So 
once was the whig and the democratic party. It is the destiny of 
associations of men to have a beginning and an end. If an associa 
tion is born of an enduring political necessity, it will endure and 
wax in vigor and power until it supplants other and superfluous, 
though more aged combinations. That such is to be the case with 
the republican party, is seen in the fact that all existing combinations 
are now uniting against it, on the ground that such a union is neces 
sary to prevent its immediate and overwhelming ascendancy. This 
union is an effective answer to the former argument, that the repub 
lican party is an ephemeral and evanescent one. 

Thirdly: We are favored with criticisms by the democrats and 
know-nothings on the course of the republican members of the house 


of representatives, by voting for Mr. Dunn s bill to restore the Mis 
souri compromise, and against Mr. Toombs bill, for pacifying Kan 
sas, which votes, it is said, prove the republicans insincere in their 
devotion to freedom. These are the same class of arguments with 
those which are urged by infidels against the Christian church, on 
the ground of the short-comings of its members. 
^Suppose we abandon the republican party for its^short-comin^Sj 
will freedom then have any party left? and if so, what party, and 
\yliere shall we find it? Certainly no other party but the democratic 
party, of which Franklin Pierce and Stephen A. Douglas are the 
apostles. But that is the party of slavery. 

citizens 7 I have discussed parties with no asperity and with 

no partiality, for I know that masses and individuals are affie honest 
well meaning and patriotic. I have no animosities and no griefs. 
While I have tried to pursue always that one steady course which 
my conscience has approved, my friends have often been alienated, 
and adversaries have become friends. The charity of judgment, to 
which I feel that I am entitled that is the charity I extend to others. 
I do not predict the times and seasons when one or other of the 
contending political elements shall prevail. I know, nevertheless, 
that this state, this nation, and this earth are to be the abode and 
happy home of freemen. Its hills and valleys are to be fields of 
free labor, free thought and free suffrages. That consummation will 
come when society is prepared for it. My labors are devoted to that 
preparation. I leave others to cling to obsolete traditions and decay 
ing systems, and perish with them if they must ; but in politics, as 
in religion, I desire for myself to be always with that portion of my 
fellow men who hold fast to the truth, with hope and confidence 
enduring through all trials in its complete and eternal triumph. 



THE unmistakable outbreaks of zeal which occur all around me, 
show that you are earnest men and such a man am I. Let us 
therefore, at least for a time, pass by all secondary and collateral 
questions, whether of a personal or of a general nature, and consider 
the main subject of the present canvass. The democratic party or, 
to speak more accurately, the party which wears that attractive 
name is in possession of the federal government. The republicans 
propose to dislodge that party, and dismiss it from its high trust. 

The main subject, then, is, whether the democratic party deserves 
to retain the confidence of the American people. In attempting to 
prove it unworthy, I think that I am not actuated by prejudices 
against that party, or by prepossessions in favor of its adversary ; 
for I have learned, by some experience, that virtue and patriotism, 
vice and selfishness, are found in all parties, and that they differ less 
in their motives than in the policies they pursue. 

Our country is a theatre, which exhibits, in full operation, two 
radically different political systems ; the one resting on the basis of 
servile or slave labor, the other on the basis of voluntary labor of 

The laborers who are enslaved are all negroes, or persons more or 
less purely of African derivation. But this is only accidental. The 
principle of the system is, that labor in every society, by whomso 
ever performed, is necessarily unintellectual, groveling and base; 
and that the laborer, equally for his own good and for the welfare 
of the state, ought to be enslaved The white laboring man, whether 
native or foreigner, is not enslaved, only because he cannot, as yet, 
be reduced to bondage. 

You need not be told now that the slave system is the older of the 
two, and that once it was universal. 

VOL. IV. 37 


The emancipation of oar own ancestors, Caucasians and Europeans 
as they were, hardly dates beyond a period of five hundred years. 
The great melioration of human society which modern times exhibit, 
is mainly due to the incomplete substitution of the system of volun 
tary labor for the old one of servile labor, which has already taken 
place. This African slave system is one which, in its origin and in 
its growth, has been altogether foreign from the habits of the races 
which colonized these states, and established civilization here. It 
was introduced on this new continent as an engine of conquest, and 
for the establishment of monarchical power, by the Portuguese and 
the Spaniards, and was rapidly extended by them all over South 
America, Central America, Louisiana and Mexico. Its legitimate 
fruits are seen in the poverty, imbecility, and anarchy, which now 
pervade all Portuguese and Spanish America. The free-labor sys 
tem is of German extraction, and it was established in our country 
by emigrants from Sweden, Holland, Germany, Great Britain and 

We justly ascribe to its influences the strength, wealth, greatness, 
intelligence, and freedom, which the whole American people now 
enjoy. One of the chief elements of the value of human life is free 
dom in the pursuit of happiness. The slave system is not only in 
tolerable, unjust, and inhuman, towards the laborer, whom, only 
because he is a laborer, it loads down with chains and converts into 
merchandise, but is scarcely less severe upon the freeman, to whom, 
only because he is a laborer from necessity, it denies facilities for 
employment, and whom it expels from the community because it 
cannot enslave and convert him into merchandise also. It is neces 
sarily improvident and ruinous, because, as a general truth, commu 
nities prosper and flourish or droop and decline in just the degree 
that they practise or neglect, to practise the primary duties of justice 
and humanity. The free-labor system conforms to the divine law of 
equality, which is written in the hearts and consciences of man, and 
therefore is always and everywhere beneficent. 

The slave system is one of constant danger, distrust, suspicion, and 
watchfulness. It debases those whose toil alone can produce wealth 
and resources for defense, to the lowest degree of which human nature 
is capable, to guard against mutiny and insurrection, and thus wastes 
energies which otherwise might be employed in national develop 
ment and aggrandizement. 


The free-labor system educates all alike, and by opening all the 
fields of industrial employment, and all the departments of authority, 
to the unchecked and equal rivalry of all classes of men, at once 
secures universal contentment, and brings into the highest possible 
activity all the physical, moral and social energies of the whole state. 
In states where the slave system prevails, the masters, directly or 
indirectly, secure all political power, and constitute a ruling aristo 
cracy. In states where the free-labor system prevails, universal suf 
frage necessarily obtains, and the state inevitably becomes, sooner or 
later, a republic or democracy. 

Eussia yet maintains slavery, and is a despotism. Most of the 
other European states have abolished slavery, and adopted the sys 
tem of free labor. It was the antagonistic political tendencies of the 
two systems which the first Napoleon was contemplating when he 
predicted that Europe would ultimately be either all Cossack or all 
republican. Never did human sagacity utter a more pregnant truth. 
The. two systems are at once perceived to be incongruous. But they 
are more than incongruous they are incompatible. They never 
have permanently existed together in one country, and they never 
can. It would be easy to demonstrate this impossibility, from the 
irreconcilable contrast between their great principles and character 
istics. But the experience of mankind has conclusively established 
it. Slavery, as I have already intimated, existed in every state in 
Europe. Free labor has supplanted it everywhere except in Russia 
and Turkey. State necessities developed in modern times, are now 
obliging even those two nations to encourage and employ free labor ; 
and already, despotic as they are, we find them engaged in abolish 
ing slavery. In the United States, slavery came into collision with 
free labor at the close of the last century, and fell before it in New 
England, New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, but triumphed 
over it effectually, and excluded it for a period yet undetermined, 
from Virginia, the Carolinas and Georgia. Indeed, so incompatible 
are the two systems, that every new state which is organized within 
our ever extending domain makes its first political act a choice of 
the one and the exclusion of the other, even at the cost of civil war, if 
necessary. The slave states, without law, at the last national election, 
successfully forbade, within their own limits, even the casting of votes 
for a candidate for president of the United States supposed to be 
favorable to the establishment of the free-labor system in new states. 


Hitherto, the two systems have existed in different states, but side 
by side within the American Union. This has happened because the 
Union is a confederation of states. But in another aspect the United 
States constitute only one nation. Increase of population, which is 
filling the states out to their very borders, together with a new and ex 
tended net- work of railroads and other avenues, and an internal com 
merce which daily becomes more intimate, is rapidly bringing the 
states into a higher and more perfect social unity or consolidation. 
/"Thus, these antagonistic systems are continually coming into closer 
contact, and collision results. 

Shall I tell you what this collision means ? They who think that 
it is accidental, unnecessary, the work of interested or fanatical agi 
tators, and therefore ephemeral, mistake the case altogether. It_is 
an irrepressible conflict between opposing and enduring forces, and 
it means that the United States must and will, sooner or later, be 
come either entirely a slaveholding nation, or entirely a free-labor 
nation. Either the cotton and rice-fields of South Carolina and the 
sugar plantations of Louisiana will ultimately be tilled by free labor, 
and Charleston and New Orleans become marts for legitimate mer 
chandise alone, or else the rye-fields and wheat-fields of Massachusetts 
and New York must again be surrendered by their farmers to slave 
culture and to the production of slaves, and Boston and New York 
become once more markets for trade in the bodies and souls of men. 
It is the failure to apprehend this great truth that induces so many 
unsuccessful attempts at final compromise between the slave and free 
states, and it is the existence of this great fact that renders all such 
pretended compromises, when made, vain and ephemeral. Startling 
as this saying may appear to you, fellow citizens, it is by no means 
an original or even a moderate one. Our forefathers knew it to be 
true, and unanimously acted upon it when they framed the constitu 
tion of the United States. They regarded the existence of the servile 
system in so many of the states with sorrow and shame, which they 
openly confessed, and they looked upon the collision between them r 
which was then just revealing itself, and which we are now accus 
tomed to deplore, with favor and hope. They knew that either the 
one or the other system must exclusively prevail. 

Unlike top many of those who in modern time invoke their autho 
rity, they had a choice between the two. They preferred the system 
of free labor, and they determined to organize the government, and 


so to direct its activity, that that system should surely and certainly 
prevail. For this purpose, and no other, they based the whole struc 
ture of government broadly on the principle that all men are created 
equal, and therefore free little dreaming that, within the short 
period of one hundred years, their descendants would bear to be 
told by any orator, however popular, that the utterance of that prin 
ciple was merely a rhetorical rhapsody; or by any judge, however 
venerated, that it was attended by mental reservations, which ren 
dered it hypocritical and false. By the ordinance of 1787, they 
dedicated all of the national domain not yet polluted by slavery to 
free labor immediately, thenceforth and forever ; while by the new 
constitution and laws they invited foreign free labor from all lands 
under the sun, and interdicted the importation of African slave 
labor, at all times, in all places, and under all circumstances what 
soever. It is true that they necessarily and wisely modified this 
policy of freedom, by leaving it to the several states, affected as they 
were by differing circumstances, to abolish slavery in their own way 
and at their own pleasure, instead of confiding that duty to congress ; 
and that they secured to the slave states, while yet retaining the sys 
tem of slavery, a three-fifths representation of slaves in the federal 
government, until they should find themselves able to relinquish it 
with safety. But the very nature of these modifications fortifies 
my position that the fathers knew that the two systems could not 
endure within the Union, and expected that within a short period 
slavery would disappear forever. Moreover, in order that these 
modifications might not altogether defeat their grand design of a 
republic maintaining universal equality, they provided that two- 
thirds of the states might amend the constitution. 

It remains to say on this point only one word, to guard against 
misapprehension. If these states are to again become universally 
slaveholding, I do not pretend to say with what violations of the 
constitution that end shall be accomplished. On the other hand, 
while I do confidently believe and hope that my country will yet 
become a land of universal freedom, I do not expect that it will be 
made so otherwise than through the action of the several states 
cooperating with the federal government, and all acting in strict con 
formity with their respective constitutions. 

The strife and contentions concerning slavery, which gently-dis 
posed persons so habitually deprecate, are nothing more than the 


ripening of the conflict which the fathers themselves not only thus 
regarded with favor, but which they may be said to have instituted. 
It is not to be denied, however, that thus far the course of that 
contest has not been according to their humane anticipations and 
wishes. In the field of federal politics, slavery, deriving unlooked- 
for advantages from commercial changes, and energies unforeseen from 
the facilities of combination between members of the slaveholding 
class and between that class and other property classes, early rallied, 
and has at length made a stand, not merely to retain its original 
defensive position, but to extend its sway throughout the whole 
Union. It is certain that the slaveholding class of American citi 
zens indulge this high ambition, and that they derive encouragement, 
for it from the rapid and effective political successes which they have 
already obtained. The plan of operation is this: By continued 
appliances of patronage and threats of disunion, they will keep a 
majority favorable to these designs in the senate, where each state 
has an equal representation. Through that majority they will de 
feat, as they best can, the admission of free states and secure the 
admission of slave states. Under the protection of the judiciary, 
they will, on the principle of the Dred Scott case, carry slavery into- 
all the territories of the United States now existing and hereafter to 
be organized. By the action of the president and the senate, using 
the treaty-making power, they will annex foreign slaveholding states. 
In a favorable conjuncture they will induce congress to repeal the 
act of 1808, which prohibits the foreign slave trade, and so they will 
import from Africa, at the cost of only twenty dollars a head, slaves 
enough to fill up the interior of the continent. Thus relatively in 
creasing the number of slave states, they will allow no amendment 
to the constitution prejudicial to their interest ; and so, having per 
manently established their power, they expect the federal judiciary 
to nullify all state laws which shall interfere with internal or foreign 
commerce in slaves. When the free states shall be sufficiently demo 
ralized to tolerate these designs, they reasonably conclude that slavery 
will be accepted by those states themselves. I shall not stop to show 
how speedy or how complete would be the ruin which the accom 
plishment of these slaveholding schemes would bring upon the coun 
try. For one, I should not remain in the country to test the sad 
experiment. Having spent my manhood, though not my whole life, 
n a free state, no aristocracy of any kind, much less an aristocracy 


of slaveholders, shall ever make the laws of the land in which I shall 
be content to live. Having seen the society around me universally 
engaged in agriculture, manufactures and trade, which were innocent 
and beneficent, I shall never be a denizen of a state where men and 
women are reared as cattle, and bought and sold as merchandise. 
When that evil day shall come, and all further effort at resistance 
shall be impossible, then, if there shall be no better hope for redemp 
tion than I can now foresee, I shall say with Franklin, while looking 
abroad over the whole earth for a new and more congenial home, 
" Where liberty dwells, there is my country." 

You will tell me that these fears are extravagant and chimerical. 
I answer, they are so ; but they are so only because the designs of 
the slaveholders must and can be defeated. But it is only the possi 
bility of defeat that renders them so. They cannot be defeated by 
inactivity. There is no escape from them, compatible with non-re 
sistance. How, then, and in what way, shall the necessary resistance 
be made. There is only one way. The democratic party must be 
permanently dislodged from the government. The reason is, that 
the democratic party is inextricably committed to the designs of the 
slaveholders, which I have described. Let me be well understood. 
I do not charge that the democratic candidates for public office now 
before the people are pledged to much less that the democratic masses 
who support them really adopt those atrocious and dangerous de 
signs. Candidates may, and generally do, mean to act justly, wisely 
and patriotically, when they shall be elected ; but they become the 
ministers and servants, not the dictators, of the power which elects 
them. The policy which a party shall pursue at a future period is 
only gradually developed, depending on the occurrence of events 
never fully foreknown. The motives of men, whether acting as 
electors or in any other capacity, are generally pure. Nevertheless, 
it is not more true that "hell is paved with good intentions," than it 
is that earth is covered with wrecks resulting from innocent and 
amiable motives. 

The very constitution of the democratic party commits it to exe 
cute all the designs of the slaveholders, whatever they may be. It 
is not a party of the whole Union, of all the free states and of all 
the slave states ; nor yet is it a party of the free states in the north 
and in the northwest ; but it is a sectional and local party, having 


practically its seat within the slave states, and counting its constitu 
ency chiefly and almost exclusively there. Of all its representatives 
in congress and in the electoral colleges, two-thirds uniformly come 
from these states. Its great element of strength lies in the vote of 
the slaveholders, augmented by the representation of three-fifths of 
the slaves. Deprive the democratic party of this strength, and it 
would be a helpless and hopeless minority, incapable of continued 
organization. The democratic party, being thus local and sectional, 
acquires new strength from the admission of every new slave state, 
and loses relatively by the admission of every new free state into 
the Union. 

A party is in one sense a joint stock association, in which those 
who contribute most direct the action and management of the con 
cern. The slaveholders contributing in an overwhelming proportion 
to the capital strength of the democratic party, they necessarily dic 
tate and prescribe its policy. The inevitable caucus system enables 
them to do so with a show of fairness and justice. If it were pos 
sible to conceive for a moment that the democratic party should 
disobey the behests of the slaveholders, we should then see a with 
drawal of the slaveholders, which would leave the party to perish. 
The portion of the party which is found in the free states is a mere 
appendage, convenient to modify its sectional character, without 
impairing its sectional constitution, and is less effective in regulating 
its movement than the nebulous tail of the comet is in determining 
the appointed though apparently eccentric course of the fiery sphere 
from which it emanates. 

To expect the democratic party to resist slavery and favor free 
dom, is as unreasonable as to look for protestant missionaries to the 
catholic propaganda of Eome. The history of the democratic party 
commits it to the policy of slavery. It has been the democratic 
party, and no other agency, which has carried that policy up to its 
present alarming culmination. Without stopping to ascertain, criti 
cally, the origin of the present democratic party, we may concede its 
claim to date from the era of good feeling which occurred under the 
administration of President Monroe. At that time, in this state, and 
about that time in many others of the free states, the democratic 
party deliberately disfranchised the free colored or African citizen, 
and it has pertinaciously continued this disfranchisement eyer since. 
This was an effective aid to slavery ; for, while the slaveholder votes 


for his slaves against freedom, the freed slave in the free states is 
prohibited from voting against slavery. 

In 1824, the democracy resisted the election of John Quincy 
Adams himself before that time an acceptable democrat and in 
1828 it expelled him from the presidency and put a slaveholder in 
his place, although the office had been filled by slaveholders thirty- 
two oat of forty years. 

In 1836, Martin Van Buren the first non-slaveholding citizen of 
a free state to whose election the democratic party ever consented 
signalized his inauguration into the presidency by a gratuitous 
announcement, that under no circumstances would he ever approve 
a bill for the abolition of slavery in the District of Columbia. From 
1838 to 1844, the subject of abolishing slavery in the District of 
Columbia and in the national dock-yards and arsenals, was brought 
before congress by repeated popular appeals. The democratic party 
thereupon promptly denied the right of petition, and effectually sup 
pressed the freedom of speech in congress, so far as the institution 
of slavery was concerned. 

From 1840 to 1843, good and wise men counseled that Texas 
should remain outside the Union until she should consent to relin 
quish her self instituted slavery; but the democratic party precipi 
tated her admission into the Union, not only without that condition, 
but even with a covenant that the state might be divided and reor 
ganized so as to constitute four slave states instead of one. 

In 1846, when the United States became involved in a war with 
Mexico, and it was apparent that the struggle would end in the dis 
memberment of that republic, which was a non-slaveholding power, 
the democratic party rejected a declaration that slavery should not 
be established within the territory to be acquired. When, in 1850, 
governments were to be instituted in the territories of California and 
New Mexico, the fruits of that war, the democratic party refused to 
admit New Mexico as a free state, and only consented to admit Cali 
fornia as a free state on the condition, as it has since explained the 
transaction, of leaving all of New Mexico and Utah open to slavery, 
to which was also added the concession of perpetual slavery in the Dis 
trict of Columbia, and the passage of an unconstitutional, cruel and 
humiliating law, for the recapture of fugitive slaves, with a further 
stipulation that the subject of slavery should never again be agitated 
in either chamber of congress. When, in 1854, the slaveholders 

VOL. IV. 38 


were contentedly reposing on these great advantages, then so recently 
won, the democratic party unnecessarily, officiously and with super- 
serviceable liberality, awakened them from their slumber, to offer 
and force on their acceptance the abrogation of the law which de 
clared that neither slavery nor involuntary servitude should ever 
exist within that part of the ancient territory of Louisiana which 
lay outside of the state of Missouri, and north of the parallel of 36 
30 of north latitude a law which, with the exception of one other, 
was the only statute of freedom then remaining in the federal 

In 1856, when the people of Kansas had organized a new state 
within the region thus abandoned to slavery, and applied to be 
admitted as a free state into the Union, the democratic party con 
temptuously rejected their petition, and drove them with menaces 
and intimidations from the halls of congress, and armed the presi 
dent with military power to enforce their submission to a slave code, 
established over them by fraud and usurpation. At every subse 
quent stage of the long contest which has since raged in Kansas, the 
democratic party has lent its sympathies, its aid, and all the powers 
of the government which it controlled, to enforce slavery upon that 
unwilling and injured people. And now, even at this day, while it 
mocks us with the assurance that Kansas is free, the democratic 
party keeps the state excluded from her just and proper place in the 
Union, under the hope that she may be dragooned into the accept 
ance of slavery. 

The democratic party, finally, has procured from a supreme 
judiciary, fixed in its interest, a decree thaj slavery exists by force 
of the constitution in every territory of the United States, para 
mount to all legislative authority, either within the territory, or 
residing in congress. 

Such is the democratic party. It has no policy, state or federal, 
for finance, or trade, or manufacture, or commerce, or education, or 
internal improvements, or for the protection or even the security of 
civil or religious liberty. It is positive and uncompromising in the 
interest of slavery negative, compromising, and vacillating, in 
regard to everything else. It boasts its love of equality, and wastes 
its strength, and even its life, in fortifying the only aristocracy 
known in the land. It professes fraternity, and, so often as slavery 
requires, allies itself with proscription. It magnifies itself for con- 


quests in foreign lands, but it sends the national eagle forth always 
with chains, and not the olive branch, in his fangs. 

This dark record shows you, fellow citizens, what I was unwilling 
to announce at an earlier stage of this argument, that of the whole 
nefarious schedule of slaveholding designs which I have submitted 
to you, the democratic party has left only one yet to be consumma 
ted the abrogation of the law which forbids the African slave trade. 

Now, I know very well that the democratic party has, at every 
stage of these procceedings, disavowed the motive and the policy of 
fortifying and extending slavery, and has excused them on entirely 
different and more plausible grounds. But the inconsistency and 
frivolity of these pleas prove still more conclusively the guilt I 
charge upon that party. It must, indeed, try to excuse such guilt 
before mankind, and even to the consciences of its own adherents. 
There is an instinctive abhorrence of slavery, and an inborn and 
inhering love of freedom in the human heart, which render pallia 
tion of such gross misconduct indispensable. It disfranchised the 
free African on the ground of a fear that, if left to enjoy the right 
of suffrage, he might seduce the free white citizens into amalgama 
tion with his wronged and despised race. The democratic party 
condemned and deposed John Quincy Adams, because he expended 
twelve millions a year, while it justifies his favored successor in spend 
ing seventy, eighty and even one hundred millions, a year. It 
denies emancipation in the District of Columbia, even with compensa 
tion to masters and the consent of the people, on the ground of an 
implied constitutional inhibition, although the constitution expressly 
confers upon congress sovereign legislative power in that district, and 
although the democratic party is tenacious of the principle of strict 
construction. It violated the express provisions of the constitution in 
suppressing petition and debate on the subject of slavery, through fear 
of disturbance of the public harmony, although it claims that the elec 
tors have a right to instruct their representatives, and even demand 
their resignation in cases of contumacy. It extended slavery over 
Texas, and connived at the attempt to spread it across the Mexican 
territories, even to the shores of the Pacific ocean, under a plea of 
enlarging the area of freedom. It abrogated the Mexican slave law 
and the Missouri compromise prohibition of slavery in Kansas, not 
to open the new territories to slavery, but to try therein the new 
and fascinating theories of non-intervention and popular sovereignty ; 


and, finally, it overthrew both these new and elegant systems bj 
the English Lecompton bill and the Dred Scott decision, on the 
ground that the free states ought not to enter the Union without a 
population equal to the representative basis of one member of con 
gress, although slave states might come in without inspection as to 
their numbers. 

Will any member of the democratic party now here claim that 
the authorities chosen by the suffrages of the party transcended their 
partisan platforms, and so misrepresented the party in the various 
transactions, I have recited? Then I ask him to name one demo 
cratic statesman or legislator, from Van Buren to Walker, who, either 
timidly or cautiously like them, or boldly and defiantly like Douglas, 
ever refused to execute a behest of the slaveholders and was not 
therefor, and for no other cause, immediately denounced, and de 
posed from his trust, and repudiated by the democratic party for 
that contumacy. 

I think, fellow citizens, that I have shown you that it is high time 
for the friends of freedom to rush to the rescue of the constitution, 
and that their very first duty is to dismiss the democratic party 
from the administration of the government. 

Why shall it not be done ? All agree that it ought to be done. 
What, then, shall prevent its being done ? Nothing but timidity 
or division of the opponents of the democratic party. 

Some of these opponents start one objection, and some another. 
Let us notice these objections briefly. One class say that they can 
not trust the republican party ; that it has not avowed its hostility to 
slavery boldly enough, or its affection for freedom earnestly enough. 

I ask, in reply, is there any other party which can be more safely 
trusted ? Every one knows that it is the republican party, or none, 
that shall displace the democratic party. But I answer, further, that 
the character and fidelity of any party are determined, necessarily, 
not by its pledges, programmes, and platforms, but by the public 
exigencies, and the temper of the people when they call it into 
activity. Subserviency to slavery is a law written not only on the 
forehead of the democratic party, but also in its very soul so resis 
tance to slavery, and devotion to freedom, the popular elements now 
actively working for the republican party among the people, must 
and will be the resources for its ever- renewing strength and constant 


Others cannot support the republican party, because it has not 
sufficiently exposed its platform, and determined what it will do, 
and what it will not do, when triumphant. It may prove too pro 
gressive for some, and too conservative for others. As if any party 
ever foresaw so clearly the course of future events as to plan a 
universal scheme of future action, adapted to all possible emergen 
cies. Who would ever have joined even the whig party of the 
revolution, if it had been obliged to answer, in 1775, whether it 
would declare for independence in 1776, and for this noble federal 
constitution of ours in 1787, and not a year earlier or later ? The 
people will be as wise next year, and even ten years hence, as we 
are now. They will oblige the republican party to act as the public 
welfare and the interests of justice and humanity shall require, 
through all the stages of its career, whether of trial or triumph. 

Others will not venture an effort, because they fear that the Union 
would not endure the change. Will such objectors tell me how 
long a constitution can bear a strain directly along the fibres of 
which it is composed ? This is a constitution of freedom. It is being 
converted into a constitution of slavery. It is a republican consti 
tution. It is being made an aristocratic one. Others wish to wait 
until some collateral questions concerning temperance, or the exer 
cise of the elective franchise are properly settled. Let me ask all 
such persons, whether time enough has not been wasted on these 
points already, without gaining any other than this single advantage, 
namely, the discovery that only one thing can be effectually done at 
one time, and that the one thing which must and will be done at any 
one time is just that thing which is most urgent, and will no longer 
admit of postponement or delay. Finally, we are told by faint-hearted 
men that they despond ; the democratic party, they say is unconquer 
able, and the dominion of slavery is consequently inevitable. I reply 
that the complete and universal dominion of slavery would be intol 
erable enough, when it should have come, after the last possible effort 
to escape should have been made. There would then be left to us 
the consoling reflection of fidelity to duty. 

But I reply further, that I know few, I think, know better than 
I the resources and energies of the democratic party, which is 
identical with the slave power. I do ample prestige to its traditional 
popularity. I know, further few, I think, know better than I 
the difficulties and disadvantages of organizing a new political force, 


like the republican party, and the obstacles it must encounter in 
laboring without prestige and without patronage. But, understand 
ing all this, I know that the democratic party must go down, and 
that the republican party must rise into its place. The democratic^ 
party derived its strength, originally, from its adoption of the prin 
ciples of equal and exact justice to all men. So long as it practised 
this principle faithfully, it was invulnerable. It became vulnerable 
when it renounced the principle, and since that time it has main 
tained itself, not by virtue of its own strength, or even of its 
traditional merits, but because there as yet had appeared in the 
political field no other party that had the conscience and the courage 
to take up, and avow, and practice the life-inspiring principle which 
the democratic party had surrendered. At last, the republican party 
has appeared. It avows, now, as the republican party of 1800 did, 
in one word, its faith and its works, " Equal and exact justice to all 
men." Even when it first entered the field, only half organized, it 
struck a blow which only just failed to secure complete and triumph 
ant victory. In this, its second campaign, it has already won 
advantages which render that triumph now both easy and certain. 

The secret of its assured success lies in that very characteristic 
which, in the mouth of scoffers, constitutes its great and lasting 
imbecility and reproach. It lies in the fact that it is a party of one 
idea ; but that idea is a noble one an idea that fills and expands all 
generous souls ; the idea of equality the equality of all men be 
fore human tribunals and human laws, as they all are equal before 
the Divine tribunal and Divine laws. 

I know, and you know, that a revolution has begun. I know, 
and all the world knows, that revolutions never go backward. 
Twenty senators and a hundred representatives proclaim boldly in 
congress to-day sentiments and opinions and principles of freedom 
which hardly so many men, even in this free state, dared to utter in 
their own homes twenty years ago. While the government of the 
United States, under the conduct of the democratic party, has been 
all that time surrendering one plain and castle after another to 
slavery, the people of the United States have been no less steadily 
and perseveringly gathering together the forces with which to 
recover back again all the fields and all the castles which have been 
lost, and to confound and overthrow, by one decisive blow, the 
betrayers of the constitution and freedom forever. 



WE claim that our political system is a judicious one, and that we 
are an intelligent and virtuous people. The government ought, 
therefore, not only to secure respect and good will abroad, but also 
to produce good order, contentment and harmony at home. It fails 
to attain these ends. The Canadians certainly neither envy nor love 
us. All the independent American powers, from the Eio Grande to 
Cape Horn, while they strive to construct governments for them 
selves after our models, fear, and many of them hate us. European 
nations do indeed revere our constitutions and admire our progress, 
but they generally agree in pronouncing us inconsistent with our 
organic principle, and capricious. The president inveighs against 
corruption among the people. The immediate representatives of 
the people in congress charge the president with immoral practices, 
and the president protests against their action as subversive of the 
executive prerogative. The house of representatives organizes itself 
convulsively amid confessed dangers of popular commotion. The 
senate listens unsurprised, and almost without excitement, to menaces 
of violence, secession and disunion. Frauds and violence in the terri 
tories are palliated and rewarded. Exposure and resistance to them 
are condemned and punished, while the just, enlightened and reason 
able will of the people there, though constitutionally expressed, is 
circumvented, disobeyed and disregarded. States watch anxiously 
for unlawful intrusion and invasion by citizens of other states, while 
the federal courts fail to suppress piracies on the high seas, and even 
on our own coasts. The government of the Union courts and sub 
mits to state espionage of the federal mails, while the states scarcely 
attempt to protect the personal rights of citizens of other states, 

I This speech and the six following, were made by Mr. Seward during his tour through Michi 
gan, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Kansas, and came to be known as his "western speeches." 
See Memoir, ante, page 84. 


peacefully pursuing harmless occupations within their fraternal juris 

Are the people satisfied and content ? Let their several parties 
and masses answer. Certainly you, the republicans of Michigan, as 
well as the republicans throughout the whole country, are not satis 
fied. But you are interested in a change of administration, and 
therefore perhaps prejudiced. Ask, then, the constitutional Union 
men, few and inefficient indeed here, but numerous and energetic 
elsewhere. They are not satisfied. If they were they would not be 
engaged, as they are now, in a hopeless attempt to organize a new 
party without any principles at all, after their recent failures to com 
bine such a party on obnoxious principles. But they also are inte 
rested and possibly prejudiced like the republicans. Appeal, then, 
to the democratic party, which enjoys and wields the patronage and 
power of the federal government. Even the democrats are no less 
dissatisfied. They certainly are dissatisfied with the republicans, 
with the national Union men, with their own administration, with 
each other, and as I think even individually, with themselves. The 
north is not satisfied. Its masses want a suppression of the African 
slave trade, and an effectual exclusion of slavery from the territories, 
so that all the new and future states may surely be free states. The 
south is not satisfied. Its masses, by whatever means and at what 
ever cost, desire the establishment and protection of slavery in the 
territories, so that none of the new states may fail to become slave 
states. The east is discontented with the neglect of its fishery, manu 
facture and navigation, and the west is impatient under the operation 
of a national policy, hostile to its agricultural, mining and social 
developments. What government in the world but ours has per 
sistently refused to improve rivers, construct harbors and establish 
light houses for the protection of its commerce ? New and anoma 
lous combinations of citizens appear in the north, justifying armed 
instigators of civil and servile war, in the south devising means for the 
disruption and dismemberment of the Union. It is manifest that we 
are suffering in the respect and confidence of foreign states, and that 
disorder and confusion are more flagrant among ourselves now than 
ever before. 

I do not intend to be understood that these evils are thus far pro 
ductive of material suffering or intolerable embarrassment, much less 
that the country is, as so many extravagant persons say, on the high 


road to civil war or dissolution. On the contrary, this fair land we 
live in is so blessed with all the elements of human comfort and 
happiness, and its citizens are at once so loyal and wise, and so well 
surrounded by yet unbroken guaranties of civil and religious liberty, 
that our experience of misrule at the very worst, never becomes so 
painful as to raise the question, how much more of public misery we 
can endure ; but it leaves us at liberty to stop now, as always here 
tofore, with the inquiry, how much more of freedom, prosperity and 
honor we can secure by the practice of greater wisdom and higher 
virtue? Discontentment is the wholesome fruit of a discovery of 
maladministration, and conviction of public error is here at least 
always a sure harbinger of political reform. 

Martin Van Buren, they say, is writing a review of his own life r 
and our time, for posthumous uses. If it is not disrespectful, I 
should like to know now the conclusions he draws from the national 
events he has seen, and of which he has been an important part ; for 
he is a shrewd observer, with advantages of large and long experi 
ence. To me it seems that the last forty years have constituted a 
period of signal and lamentable failure in the efforts of statesmen to 
adjust and establish a federal policy for the regulation of the subject 
of slavery in its relations to the Union. In this view I regard it as 
belonging to the office of a statesman not merely to favor an imme 
diate and temporary increase of national wealth, and an enlargement 
of national territory, but also to fortify, so far as the prescribed con 
stitutional limits of his action may allow, the influences of knowledge 
and humanity ; to abate popular prejudices and passions, by modify 
ing or removing their causes ; to ascertain and disclose the operation 
of general laws, and to study and reveal the social tendencies of the 
age, and by combining the past with the present, while giving free 
play all the time to the reciprocating action of the many coexisting 
moral forces, to develop that harmonious system which actually pre 
vails in the apparent chaos of human affairs ; and so to gain some 
thing in the way of assurance as to the complexion of that futurity 
toward which, since our country is destined to endure, and insomuch 
as we desire that it may be immortal, our thoughts are so vehemently 
driven even by the selfish as well as by the generous principles of our 

I have understood that John Quincy Adams, the purest and wisest 
statesman I ever knew, died despairing of a peaceful solution of the 

VOL. IV. 39 


problem of slavery, on which he was so intently engaged throughout 
his public service. If we may judge from the absolute failures of 
Mr. Yan Buren, Mr. Polk, Mr. Pierce and Mr. Buchanan, in the 
respect I have mentioned, and if we take into consideration also the 
systems which Mr. Calhoun, Mr. Benton, Mr. Clay and Mr. Webster 
severally recommended, and which have subsequently failed to be 
adopted, we may perhaps conclude that the difficulties of establishing 
a satisfactory and soothing policy, have overtasked even our wisest 
and most eminent statesmen. They certainly have been neither 
incapable nor selfish men. No age or country has been illustrated 
by public characters of greater genius, wisdom and virtue. 

It is easy to see, fellow citizens, that the failure has resulted, not 
from the faults of our statesmen, but from the peculiar constitutions 
and characters of political parties, on which they relied for power. 
Solid, enduring and constant parties, inspired by love of country, 
reverence for virtue and devotion to human liberty, bold in their 
conceptions of measures, moderate in success, and resolute through 
out reverses, are essential to effective and beneficent administration 
in every free state. Unanimity, even in a wise, just and necessary 
policy, can never be expected in any country all at once, and without 
thorough debate and earnest conflicts of opinion. All public move 
ments are therefore undertaken and prosecuted through the agencies, 
not of individuals, but of parties, regulated, excited and moderated, 
as occasion may require, by their representatives. He who proposes 
means so impracticable that he can win no party to their support, 
may be a philanthropist, but he cannot be a statesman ; and even 
when the leader in administration is thus sustained, he is, although 
never so earnest or wise, everywhere and at all times inefficient and 
imbecile, just in the degree that the party on which he depends is 
inconstant, vacillating, timid or capricious. What has become of 
the several political parties which have flourished within your time 
and mine? That dashing, unterrified, defiant party, whose irresisti 
ble legions carried the honest and intrepid hero of New Orleans on 
their shields, through so many civil encounters that generous, 
though not unprejudiced whig party, which, apprehensive of per 
petual danger from too radical policies of administration, so often 
with unabated chivalry and enthusiasm, magically recombined its 
bruised and scattered columns, even when a capricious fortune had 
turned its rare and hard won triumphs into defeats more disastrous 


than the field fights which it had lost the recent American party, 
that sprang at one bound from ten thousand dark chambers, and 
which seemed only yesterday at the very point of carrying the 
government by a coup de main. All these parties, that for brief 
periods seemed so strong and so unchanging, have perished, leaving 
no deep impression on the history of the country they aimed to direct 
and rule forever. The democratic party, too, that has clothed itself 
so complacently with the pleasant traditions of all preceding parties, 
and combined so felicitously the most popular of our rational sym 
pathies with the most inveterate and repulsive of our conservative 
interests, that has won the south so dexterously, by stimulating its 
maddest ambition, and yet has held the north so tenaciously and so 
long, by awakening its wildest and most demoralizing fears. What 
is its condition ? It is distinguished in fortune from its extinguished 
rivals only by the circumstance that both portions of its crew, 
divided as the hulk breaks into two not unequal parts, retain suffi 
cient energy in their despair to seize on the drifting wrecks 
of other parties, and by a cunning though hopeless carpentry, 
to frame wretched and rickety rafts on which to sustain them 
selves for one dark night more on the tempestuous sea of national 
politics. All these parties, it is now manifest, were organized, 
not specially to establish justice and maintain freedom and equality 
among an honest, jealous and liberty-loving people, but to achieve 
some material public advantage of temporary importance, or to secure 
the advancement of some chief to whose discretion, as if the govern 
ment were an elective despotism instead of a republic, the distribu 
tion of its patronage and the direction of its affairs should be 
implicitly confided. They did, indeed, out of respect or fear of 
generous reforms, often affect to express elevated principles and 
generous sentiments in their carefully elaborated creeds, but these 
creeds, nevertheless, even when not ambiguously expressed, were 
from time to time revised and qualified and modified, so that at last 
the interpreters, who alone had them by heart, and were able to 
repeat them, were found perverting the constitution in its most une 
quivocal parts, and most palpable meaning, disparaging and rejecting 
the Declaration of Independence, and stultifying the founders of the 
republic. The parties thus constituted, dependent not on any 
national or even on any natural sentiment, but on mere discipline 
for their cohesion, and coming at last through constant demoraliza- 


tion, to assume that capital and not labor, property and not liberty, 
is the great interest of every people, and that religion, conversant 
only with the relations of men to an unseen and future world, must 
be abjured in their conduct toward each other on earth, have finally 
discarded justice and humanity from their systems, broken up nearly 
all the existing combinations for spiritual ends, and attempted to 
conduct affairs of government on principles equally in violation of 
the constitution and of the eternal laws of God s providence for the 
regulation of the universe. 

These views of the characters of our modern parties, are by no 
means newly conceived on my part. In that high and intensely 
exciting debate in congress in the year 1850, which, overruling the 
administration of General Taylor, brought the two then dominating 
parties into a compromise at the time solemnly pronounced final r 
irrevocable and eternal, but which was nevertheless scattered to the 
winds of Heaven only four years afterward, the great statesman of 
Kentucky denounced party spirit as he assumed it to be raging 
throughout the country, as pregnant with the imminent and intole 
rable disasters of civil war and national dissolution. I ventured 
then to reply that, in my humble judgment, it was not a conflict of 
parties that we then were seeing and hearing, but it was, on the con 
trary, the agony of distracted parties, a convulsion resulting from 
the too narrow foundations of both of the great parties and of all the 
parties of the day, foundations that had been laid in compromises of 
natural justice and human rights that a new and great question 
a moral question transcending the too narrow creeds of existing par 
ties had arisen that the public conscience was expanding with it r 
and the green withes of party combinations were giving way and 
breaking under the pressure that it was not the Union that was 
decaying and dying, as was supposed, of the fever of party spirit, 
but that the two great parties were smitten with paralysis, fatal indeed 
to them unless they should consent to be immediately renewed and 
reorganized, borrowing needful elements of health and vigor from a 
cordial embrace with the humane spirit of the age. 

But to exempt our statesmen by casting blame on our political 
parties, does not reach, but only approximates the real source of 
responsibility. All of these parties have been composed of citizens, 
not a few but many citizens, in the aggregate all the citizens of the 
republic. They were not ignorant, willful or dishonest citizens, but 


sincere, faithful and useful members of the state. The parties of our 
country, what are they at any time, but ourselves, the people of our 
country ? Thus the faults of past administration, and of course the 
responsibility for existing evils, are brought directly home to your 
selves and myself to the whole people. This is no hard saying. 
The wisest, justest and most virtuous of men occasionally errs and 
has need daily to implore the Divine goodness, that he be not led 
further into temptation; and just so the wisest, justest and most 
virtuous of nations often unconsciously lose and depart from their 
ancient, approved and safer ways. Is there any society, even of 
Christians, that has never had occasion to reform its practice, retrace 
its too careless steps and discard heresies that have corrupted its 
accepted faith? What was the English revolution of 1688, but a 
return from the dark and dangerous road of absolutism ? What the 
French revolution, but a mighty convulsion, that while it carried a 
brave, enlightened and liberty-loving nation backward on their pro 
gress of three hundred years, owed all its horrors to the delay which 
had so long postponed the needed reaction ! 

A national departure always happens when a great emergency 
occurs unobserved and unfelt, bringing the necessity for the attain 
ment of some new and important object, which can only be secured 
through the inspiration of some new but great and generous national 

Let us see if we can ascertain, in the present case, when our depart 
ure from the right and safe way occurred. Certainly it was not in 
the revolutionary age. The nation then experienced and felt a stern 
necessity, perceived and resolutely aimed at a transcendently sublime 
object, and accepted cheerfully the awakening influences of an 
intensely moving and generous principle. The necessity was deli 
verance from British oppression ; the object, independence ; the 
principle, the inalienable rights of man. The revolution was a suc 
cess, because the country had in Adams and Jefferson and Washing 
ton and their associates the leaders, and in the whigs the party, 
needful for this crisis, and these were sustained by the people. 

Our departure was not at the juncture of the establishment of the 
constitution. The country then had and owned a new and over 
powering necessity, perceived and demanded a new object, and 
.adopted a new and most animating principle. The necessity, the 
escape from anarchy ; the object, federal Union ; the principle, fra- 


ternity of the American people. The constitution, with the ordi 
nance of 1787, practically a part of it, was not a failure, because 
Hamilton and Jay and Madison and King were competent, and the 
federal party was constant, and the people gave it a confiding and 
generous support. 

It was not in 1800, that the national deviation took place. Then 
were disclosed a new public necessity, new object, and new principle. 
A separation and removal of aristocratic checks and interests from 
the mechanism of our republican institutions. The needed reform 
did not fail, because Jefferson and George Clinton, with their associ 
ates, braved all resistance, the republican party defended, and the 
people sustained them. 

Again, the departure did not occur in 1812. Then was discovered 
a further necessity, bringing into view a further object and introducing 
yet another new and noble principle of action. The necessity, a 
vindication of national rights; the object, freedom of intercourse 
with mankind ; the principle, the defense of our homes and our 
honor. The war of 1812 was a success, because Clay, Calhoun and 
Tompkins did not shrink from the trial ; the republican party ap 
proved and the people sustained them. 

In 1820, however, the nation had unconsciously reached and 
entered a new stage in its successful career, namely, that of expan 
sion. ) By purchases from France and Spain it had extended its bor 
ders from the St. Mary s southward around the peninsula of Florida, 
and from the Mississippi to the Eocky mountains, an expansion to 
be afterwards indefinitely continued. We all know the advantages 
of expansion. They are augmented wealth and population. But 
we all know equally well, if we will only reflect, that no new advan 
tage is ever gained in national more than in individual life without 
exposure to some new danger. What then is the danger which 
attends expansion ? It is nothing less and can be nothing less than 
an increase of the strain upon the bonds of the Union. The time had 
come to organize government finally in the newly acquired ter 
ritory of Louisiana, on principles that should be applied thereafter 
in all cases of further expansion. This necessity brought into glar 
ing light a new object, namely, since the only existing cause of 
mutual alienation among the states was slavery, which was already 
carefully circumscribed by the ordinance of 1787, that anomalous- 
institution must now be further circumscribed by extending the ordi- 


nance to cover the new states to be established in the Louisiania 
purchase. To this end a new and humane impulse naturally moved 
the country, namely, the freedom of human labor. 

But although statesmen qualified for the crisis appeared, no party 
stood forth to support them with constancy, and the country, after a 
temporary glow of free soil excitement, subsided into cold indiffer 
ence and so a compromise was made which divided the newly 
acquired domain between free labor and capital in slaves, between 
freedom and slavery, a memorable compromise, which, after a trial 
of only thirty -four years, proved to be effective only in its conces 
sions to slavery, while its greater guaranties of freedom were found 
unavailing and worthless. History says that the compromise of 1820 
was necessary to save the Union from disruption. I do not dispute 
history, nor debate the settled moral questions of the past. I only 
lament that it was necessary, if indeed it was so. History tells us 
that the course then adopted was wise. I do not controvert it. I only 
mourn the occurrence of even one case most certainly the only one 
that ever did happen, in which the way of wisdom has failed to be 
also the way of pleasantness, and the path of pear". It was in 1820, 
therefore, that the national deviation began. We have continued 
ever since the divergent course then so inconsiderately entered, until 
at last we have reached a point, where, amid confusion, bewilderment 
and mutual recriminations, it seems alike impossible to go forward or 
to return. We have added territory after territory, and region after 
region with the customary boldness of feebly resisted conquerors, 
not merely neglecting to keep slavery out of our new possessions, 
but actually removing all the barriers against it which we found 
standing at the times of conquest. In doing this we have defied the 
moral opinions of mankind, overturned the laws and systems of our 
fathers, and dishonored their memories by declaring that the un- 
equaled and glorious constitution which they gave us, carries with it, 
as it attends our eagles, not freedom and personal rights to the 
oppressed, but slavery and a hateful and baleful commerce in slaves, 
wherever we win a conquest by sea or land over the whole habitable 

While we must now, in deference to history, excuse the first diver 
gence, it is manifest that our subsequent persistence in the same 
course has been entirely unnecessary and unjustifiable. New Brians 
wick, Nova Scotia and Canada, what remains of Mexico, all of the 


West Indies and Central America, are doubtless very desirable, but 
we have patiently waited for them, and are now likely to wait until 
they can be acquired without receiving slavery with them, or ex 
tending it over them. Nay, all the resistance we have ever met in 
adding Spanish American territories to our republic, has resulted 
from our willful and perverse purpose of subverting freedom there, 
to blight the fairest portion of the earth, when we found it free, by 
extending over it our only national agency of desolation. We may 
doubtless persist still further. We may add conquest to conquest, 
for resistance to our ambition daily grows more and more impossible, 
until we surpass in extent and apparent strength the greatest empires 
of ancient or modern times, all the while enlarging the area of 
African bondage ; but after our already ample experience, I think 
no one will be bold enough to deny that we equally increase the 
evils of discontent and the dangers of domestic faction. 

While I lament the national divergence I have thus described, I 
do not confess it to be altogether inexcusable. Much less do I blame 
any one or more of our politicians or parties, while exempting others. 
All are, in different degrees perhaps, responsible alike, and all have 
abundant, if not altogether adequate excuses. Deviations once be 
gun, without realizing the immediate presence of danger, it was 
easier to continue on than to return. The country has all the time 
been growing richer and more prosperous and populous. It was not 
unnatural that we should disregard warnings of what we were as 
sured by high though interested authorities, always were distant, 
improbable and even visionary dangers. It cannot be denied that 
the African races among us are abject, although their condition, and 
even their presence here, are due not to their will or fault, but to our 
own, and that they have a direct interest in the question of slavery. 
How natural has it been to assume that the motive of those who 
have protested against the extension of slavey, was an unnatural 
sympathy with the negro instead of what it always has really been, 
concern for the welfare of the white man. There are few, indeed, 
who ever realize that the whole human race suffers somewhat in the 
afflictions and calamities which befall the humblest and most despised 
of its members. 

The argument, though demanding the most dispassionate calmness 
and kindness, has too often been conducted with anger and broken 
out into violence. 


Moreover, alarms of disunion were sounded, and strange political 
inventions like the floating fire ships sent down the St. Lawrence, 
by the besieged in Quebec, to terrify the army of Wolfe on the island 
of St. Louis, appeared suddenly before us whenever we proposed to 
consider in good earnest the subject of federal slavery. 

We love, and we ought to love the fellowship of our slaveholding 
brethren. How natural, therefore, has it been to make the conces 
sions so necessary to silence their complaints, rather than by seeming 
impracticability in what was thought a matter of indifference, to lose 
such congenial a companionship. Again, at least, present peace and 
safety, together with some partial guaranties and concessions of free 
dom, were from time to time obtained by compromises. Who had 
the right, or who the presumption to say, with the certainty of 
being held responsible for casting imputations of bad faith upon our 
southern brethren, that these compromises would, when their inte 
rests should demand it, be disavowed and broken ? 

Other nations, we have assumed, are jealous of our growing great 
ness. They have censured us, perhaps with unjust asperity, for our 
apostacy in favor of slavery. How natural and even patriotic has it 
been on our part to, manifest by persistence our contempt and defiance 
of such interested and hostile animadversions. Besides, though 
slavery is indeed now practically a local and peculiar institution of 
the south, it was not long ago the habit and practice of the whole 
American people. It is only twenty-five years since our British 
brethren abolished slavery in their colonies, and only half a century 
since we or any European nation interdicted the African slave 
trade. Scarcely three generations have passed away since the sub 
ject of the wrongfulness of slavery first engaged the consideration of 

You and I indeed understand now very well how it is that slavery 
in the territories of the United States is left open by the constitution 
to our utmost peaceful opposition, while within the slave states it is 
entrenched behind local constitutions beyond the reach of external 
legislation. But the subject is a complex one, and the great masses 
of the people to whom it has only been recently presented, and 
doubtlessly often presented, under unfavorable circumstances, might 
well desire time for its careful and deliberate examination. 

It seems a bold suggestion to say, that a great nation ought to 
reconsider a practice of forty years duration ; but forty years of a 

VOL. IV. 40 


nation s life are equivalent to only one year of the life of an indivi 
dual. The thought is at least consistent with political philosophy, for 
it is not more true that personal persistence in error leads inevitably 
to ruin, than it is that every nation exists by obedience to the same 
moral laws which direct individual life, that they are written in its 
original constitution, and it must continually reform itself according 
to the spirit of those laws or perish. - 

My humble advice, then, fellow citizens, is, that we return and 
reestablish the original policy of the nation, and henceforth hold, as 
we did in the beginning, that slavery is and must be only a purely 
local, temporary and exceptional institution, confined within the 
slave states where it already exists, while freedom is the general, 
normal, enduring and permanent condition of society within the 
jurisdiction, and under the authority of the constitution of the 
United States. 

I counsel thus for a simple reason incapable of illumination. 
Slavery, however it may be at any time or in any place excused, is 
at all times and everywhere unjust and inhuman in its very nature; 
while freedom, however it may be at any time or in any place 
neglected, denied or abused, is in its nature right, just and benefi 
cent. It can never, under any circumstances, be wise to persevere, 
voluntarily, in extending or fortifying an institution that is intrinsi 
cally wrong or cruel. It can never be unwise, wherever it is possi 
ble, to defend and fortify an existing institution that is founded on 
the rights of human nature. Insomuch as opinions are so mate 
rially, and yet so unconsciously, affected and modified by time, place 
and circumstances, we may hold these great truths firmly, without 
impeaching the convictions or the motives of those who deny them 
in argument or in practice. 

I counsel thus for another reason quite as simple as the first. 
Knowledge, emulation and independence among the members of a 
social state are the chief elements of national wealth, strength and 
power. Ignorance, indolence and bondage of individuals are always 
sources of national imbecility and decline. All nations in their turns 
have practised slavery. Most of them have abolished it. The world 
over, the wealthiest and most powerful nations have been those which 
tolerated it least, and which earliest and most completely abolished 
it. Virginia and Texas are thrown into a panic even now by the 
appearance or even the suspicion of a handful of men within their 


borders instigating civil war. Massachusetts and Yermont defied 
British invasion backed by treason, eighty years ago. 

Thirdly. There is no necessity now to fortify or extend slavery 
within the United States or on the American continent. All the 
supposed necessities of that sort ever before known, have passed 
away forever. Let us briefly review them. With the discovery and 
conquest of America confessedly came a responsibility to reclaim it 
from nature and to introduce civilization. Unfortunately Spain and 
Portugal, the discoverers and conquerors, were, of all the European 
states in the sixteenth century, the worst qualified and least able to 
colonize. They were neither populous, nor industrious, nor free ; 
but were nations of princes and subjects ; of soldiers, navigators, 
nobles, priests, poets and scholars, wilhout merchants, mechanics, 
farmers or laborers. The art of navigation was imperfect ; its prac 
tice dangerous, and the new world that the pope had divided between 
his two most loyal crown- wearing children was in its natural state 
pestilential. European emigration was therefore impracticable. In 
the emergency the conquerors, with ruffian violence, swept off at 
once the gold and silver ornaments which they found in the temples 
and on the persons of the natives, ignorant of their European values, 
and subjugated and enslaved the natives themselves. But these 
simple children of the forest, like the wild flowers when the hurri 
cane sweeps over the prairies, perished under cruelties so contrary 
to nature. 

The African trade, in prisoners of war spared from slaughter, 
afforded an alternative. The chiefs sold ten men, women or children 
for a single horse. The conquerors of America brought this unna 
tural merchandise to our coasts. When the English colonists of 
North America, happily in only a very limited degree, borrowed 
from their predecessors this bad practice of slavery, they borrowed 
also the wretched apology, a want of an adequate supply of free 
labor. It was then thought an exercise of Christian benevolence to 
rescue the African heathen from eternal suffering in a future state, 
arid through the painful path of earthly bondage to open to him the 
gates of the celestial paradise. But all this is now changed. We 
are at last no feeble or sickly colonies, but a great, populous, homo 
geneous nation, unsurpassed and unequaled in all the elements of 
colonization and civilization. Free labor here continually increases 
and abounds, and is fast verging towards European standards of 


value. There is not one acre too much in our broad domain for the 
supply of even three generations of our free population, with their 
certain increase. Immigration from Europe is crowding our own 
sons into the western region, and this movement is daily augmented 
by the application of new machines for diminishing mechanical and 
even agricultural labor. At this very moment, congress, after a long 
and obstinate reluctance, finds itself obliged to yield a homestead 
law to relieve the pressure of labor in the Atlantic states. Certainly, 
therefore, we have no need and no room for African slaves in the 
federal territories. Do you say that we want more sugar and more 
cotton, and therefore must have more slaves and more slave labor ? 
I answer, first, that no class or race of men have a right to demand 
sugar, cotton, or any other comfort of human life to be wrung for 
them, through the action of the federal government, from the unre 
warded and compulsory labor of any other class or race of men. 

I answer, secondly, that we have sugar and cotton enough already 
for domestic consumption, and a surplus of the latter for exportation 
without any increase of slave territory. Do you say that Europe 
wants more sugar and cotton than we can now supply ? I reply, let 
then Europe send her free laborers hither, or into Italy, or into the 
"West Indies, or into the East; or, if it suit them better, let them 
engage the natives of cotton-growing regions in the old world, to 
produce cotton and sugar voluntarily, and for adequate compensa 
tion. Such a course, instead of fortifying and enlarging the sway 
of slavery here, will leave us free to favor its gradual removal. It 
will renew or introduce civilization on the shores of the Mediterra 
nean and throughout the coasts of the Indian ocean. Christianity, 
more fully developed and better understood now than heretofore, 
turns with disgust and horror from the employment of force and 
piracy as a necessary agent of the gospel. 

Fourthly. All the subtle evasions and plausible political theories 
which have heretofore been brought into the argument for an exten 
sion of slavery, have at last been found fallacious and frivolous. 

It is unavailing now to say that this government was made by 
and for white men only, since even slaves owed allegiance to Great 
Britain before the revolution, equally with white men, and were 
equally absolved from it by the revolution, and are not only held to 
allegiance now under our laws, but are also subjected to taxation and 
actual representation in every department of the federal government. 


No government can excuse itself from the duty of protecting the 
extreme rights of every human being, whether foreign or native 
born, bond or free, whom it compulsorily holds within its jurisdic 
tion. The great fact is now fully realized that the African race here 
is a foreign and feeble element like the Indians, incapable of assimi 
lation, but not the less, therefore, entitled to such care and protection 
as the weak everywhere may require from the strong ; that it is a 
pitiful exotic unwisely and unnecessarily transplanted into our fields, 
and which it is unprofitable to cultivate at the cost of the desolation 
of the native vineyard. Nor will the argument that the party of sla 
very is national and that of freedom sectional, any longer avail when 
it is fully understood that, so far as it is founded in truth, it is only 
a result of that perversion of the constitution which has attempted 
to circumscribe freedom, and to make slavery universal throughout 
the republic. Equally do the reproaches, invectives and satires of 
the advocates of slavery extension fail, since it is seen and felt that 
truth, reason and humanity can work right on without fanaticism, 
and bear contumely without retaliation. I counsel this course fur 
ther, because the combinations of slavery are broken up, and can 
never be renewed with success. Any new combination must be 
based on the principle of the southern democratic faction, that slavery 
is inherently just and beneficent, and ought to be protected, which 
can no longer be tolerated in the north ; or else on the principle of 
the northern democratic faction that slavery is indifferent and unwor 
thy of federal protection, which is insufficient in the south : while the 
national mind has actually passed far beyond both of these princi 
ples, and is settled in the conviction that slavery, wherever and how 
soever it exists, exists only to be regretted and deplored. 

I counsel this course further, because the necessity for a return to 
the old national way has become at last absolute and imperative. 
We can extend slavery into new territories, and create new slave 
states only by reopening the African slave trade ; a proceeding which, 
by destroying all the existing values of the slaves now held in the 
country, and their increase, would bring the north and the south into 
complete unanimity in favor of that return. 

Finally, I counsel that return because a statesman has been desig 
nated who possesses, in an eminent and most satisfactory degree, the 
virtues and the qualifications necessary for the leader in so great and 
generous a movement ; and I feel well assured that Abraham Lin- 


coin will not fail to reinaugurate the ancient constitutional policy in 
the administration of the government successfully, because the repub 
lican party, after ample experience, has at last acquired the courage 
and the constancy necessary to sustain him, and because I am satis 
fied that the people, at last fully convinced of the wisdom and neces 
sity of the proposed reformation, are prepared to sustain and give it 

But when it shall have been accomplished, what may we expect 
then ; what dangers must we incur ; what disasters and calamities 
must we suffer? I answer, no dangers, disasters or calamities. All 
parties will acquiesce, because it will be the act of the people, in the 
exercise of their sovereign power, in conformity with the constitu 
tion and laws, and in harmony with the eternal principles of justice, 
and the benignant spirit of the age in which we live. All parties 
and all sections will alike rejoice in the settlement of a controversy 
which has agitated the country and disturbed its peace so long. We 
shall regain the respect and good will of the nations, and once more, 
consistent with our principles and with our ancient character, we 
shall, with their free consent, take our place at their head, in their 
advancing progress, toward a higher and more happy, because more 
numane and more genial civilization. 



IT is a political law and when I say political law, I mean a 
higher law, a law of Providence that empire has, for the last three 
thousand years, so long as we have records of civilization, made its 
way constantly westward, and that it must continue to move on 
westward until the tides of the renewed and of the decaying civil 
izations of the world meet on the shores of the Pacific ocean. 
Within a year I have seemed to myself to follow the track of empire 
in its westward march for three thousand years. I stood but a year 
ago on the hill of Calvary. I stood soon afterward on the Pirceus 
of Athens. Again I found myself on the banks of the Tiber. 
Still advancing westward I rested under the shades of the palaces of 
the kings of England, and trod the streets of the now renovated 
capital of France. From those capitals I made my way at last to 
"Washington, the city of established empire for the present genera 
tion of men, and of influence over the destinies of mankind. 

Empire moves far more rapidly in modern than it did in ancient 
times. The empire established at Washington, is of less than a 
hundred years formation. It was the empire of thirteen Atlantic 
American states. Still, practically, the mission of that empire is ful 
filled. The power that directs it is ready to pass away from those 
thirteen states, and although held and exercised under the same 
constitution and national form of government, yet it is now in the 
very act of being transferred from the thirteen states east of the 
Alleghany mountains and on the coast of the Atlantic ocean, to the 
twenty states that lie west of the Alleghanies, and stretch away 
from their base to the base of the Eocky mountains. The political 
power of the republic, the empire, is already here in the plain that 
stretches between the great lakes on the east and the base of the 
Eocky mountains on the west ; and you are heirs to it. When the 
next census shall reveal your power, you will be found to be the 


masters of the United States of America, and through them the 
dominating political power of the world. Our mission, if I may say 
that I belong to that eastern and falling empire instead of the rising 
western one the mission of the thirteen states has been practically 
accomplished. And what is it? Just like the mission of every 
other power on earth. To reproduce, to produce a new and greater 
and better power than we have been ourselves, to introduce on the 
stage of human affairs twenty new states and to prepare the way for 
twenty more, before whose rising greatness and splendor, all our 
own achievements pale and fade away. We have done this with as 
much forethought perhaps as any people ever exercised, by saving 
the broad domain which you and these other forty states are to 
occupy, saving it for your possession, and so far as we had virtue 
enough, by surrounding it with barriers against the intrusion of 
ignorance, superstition and slavery. 

Because you are to rise to the ascendant and exercise a domina 
ting influence, you are not, therefore, to cast off the ancient and 
honored thirteen that opened the way for you and marshaled you 
into this noble possession, nor are you to cast off the new states of 
the west. But you are to lay still broader foundations, and to erect 
still more noble columns to sustain the empire which our fathers 
established, and which it is the manifest will of our Heavenly Father 
shall reach from the shores of the lakes to the gulf of Mexico, and 
from the Atlantic to the Pacific ocean. It was a free government 
which they established, and it was a self-government a government 
such as, on so large a scale, or indeed on any scale, has never before 
existed. I know that when you consider what a magnificent destiny 
you have before you, to lay your hand on the Atlantic coast, and to 
extend your power to the Pacific ocean and grasp the great com 
merce of the east, you will fully appreciate the responsibility. It is 
only to be done by maintaining the democratic system of govern 
ment. There is no other name given under heaven by which, in 
this generation, nations can be saved from desolation and ruin, than 
democracy. This, to many conservative ears, would seem a strange 
proposition ; and yet it is so simple that I lack the power almost of 
elucidating it. Look at England. She is ambitious, as she well 
may be, and ought to be, to retain that dominion, reaching into 
every part of the habitable globe, which she now exercises. She is 
likely to do it, too, and may do it, by reducing, every successive 


year, the power of her aristocracy, and introducing more and more, 
the popular element of democracy ID to the administration of her 

In many respects the government of England, though more aris 
tocratic, is still less monarchical than our own. The British empire 
exists to-day only by recognizing and gradually adopting the great 
truth that if the British empire is to stand, it is the British people 
who are to maintain that empire and enjoy and exercise it. France, 
the other great European power, which seems to stand firmer now 
than ever, and to be renewing her career of prosperity and glory 
France, under the form of a despotism, has adopted the principle of 
universal suffrage, and the empire of France to-day is a democracy. 
The Austrian empire is falling. And why ? Because democracy is 
rising in Germany to demand the liberation of the people of its 
various nations, and the exercise of universal suffrage. And Italy 
to-day all along the coast of the Mediterranean, is rising up to the 
dignity of renewed national life, by adopting the principle of univer 
sal suffrage and the limitation of power by the action of the whole 

Now if in the Old World, where government and empire are 
entrenched and established so strong in hereditary aristocracy, no 
empire can stand except as it yields to the democratic principle ; 
look around over the United States of America, and say how long 
you can hold these states in a federal union or maintain one common 
authority or empire here, except on the principles of democracy ? 
Therefore, it is that, I say, that you of the northwest are, above all 
things, first, last, and all the time, to recognize as the great element 
of the republic, the system and principles of democracy. 

But, fellow citizens, it is easy to talk about democracy. I have 
heard some men prate of it by the hour, and admire it, and shout 
for it, and express their reverence for it ; and yet I have seen that 
they never comprehend the simplest element of democracy ? What 
is it ? Is it the opposite of monarchy or of aristocracy ? Aristocracy 
is maintained everywhere, in all lands, by one of two systems, or by 
both combined. An aristocracy is the government in which the 
privileged own the lands, and the many unprivileged work them, or 
in which the few privileged own the laborers and the laborers work 
for them. In either case the laborer works on compulsion, and 
under the constraint of force ; and in either case he takes that which 

VOL. IV. 41 


may remain after the wants of the owners of land or labor are both 
satisfied. The laborer must rest content with the privilege of being 
protected in his personal rights ; and the powers of the government 
are exercised by the owner, of labor and of land. 

) Here, then, you see I have brought you to the consideration of 
the great problem of society in this republic or empire. It is this : 
Is there any danger -that in the United States the citizen will not be 
the owner of the land which he cultivates ? If there is any part of 
the United States where the labor or the land is monopolized by 
capital, there is a place in which the democratic element has not yet 
had its introduction or been permitted to work its way effectually. 
So, on the other hand, as here, where you are, no man can monopo 
lize the land which another man is obliged to cultivate, much less 
monopolize the labor by which the lands on your fields are cultiva 
ted, you are entirely and absolutely established and grounded on 
democratic principles. But, you all know, that has not always been 
the history of our whole country, and, at times, was not the condi 
tion of any part of it. Some two hundred years ago, when laborers 
were scarce, and the field to be cultivated was large, private citizens 
of the Atlantic states, driven, as they said, by the cupidity of the 
British government, introduced the labor of slaves into the American 
colonies, and then established the aristocracy of land and labor. 
The system pervaded nearly the whole Atlantic states. If it had 
not been interrupted it would have pervaded the continent of 
America ; and instead of what you see, and of what you are a part, 
and of what you do, instead of emigration from the eastern states 
into the prairies of the west, and instead of emigration from Europe 
all over the United States, you would have had in the northwest 
this day the Boston and New York merchant importing laborers 
instead of freemen into the seaports, and dispersing them over the 
entire valley of the Mississippi. That would have been the condi 
tion of civilization on this continent. It has been fortunate for you, 
and fortunate for us, that such a desecration of the magnificent scene, 
provided by nature for the improvement of human society and for 
the increase of human happiness, has been arrested so soon ; and 
you will see how felicitous it is when for one moment you compare 
the condition of Wisconsin, and of Maine, and of Iowa, and of Illi 
nois, and of Indiana, and of all the free states of the Union, with 
the islands of the West Indies, colonized just at the same time that 


the Atlantic states were colonized, and with the condition of South 
America, a whole and entire new continent, abounding in the most 
luxuriant vegetation and with the greatest resources of mineral 
wealth, absolutely reduced to a condition of perpetual civil war, and 
ever-renewed ruinous desolation. The salvation of North America 
from all those disasters that have befallen the southern portion of 
the continent is the result of bold and firm procedure on the part 
of your ancestors and mine, less than a hundred years ago. 

The government of the United States was established in an 
auspicious moment. The world had become aroused to the injustice 
as well as to the inexpediency of the system of slavery, and the peo 
ple of the United States, rising up to the dignity of the decision that 
was before them, determined to prevent the further extension, and, 
as far and fast as possible, to secure the abolition of African slavery. 
It was under the influence of a high, righteous, noble, humane excite 
ment like that, that even the state of Virginia, itself a slave state, 
like the state of New York, determined that, so far as her power 
and her will could command the future, slavery should cease for 
ever ; first, by abolishing the African slave trade, which would bring 
about, ultimately, the cessation of domestic slavery ; and, in the 
second place, by declaring that her consent to the cession of territory 
northwest of the Ohio, of which you occupy so beautiful a part, was 
given with the express condition that it should never be the home 
of slavery or involuntary servitude. 

But, I need not remind you that this, like most other efforts of 
human society to do good and to advance the welfare of mankind, 
had its painful and unfortunate reaction. Hardty twenty years had 
elapsed after the passage of these noble acts for the foundation of 
liberty on the North American continent, before there came over 
the nation a tide of demoralization, the results of which, coming on 
us with such fearful rapidity, surpass almost our power to describe 
or to sufficiently deplore. 

What have we seen since that was done? We have seen the 
people of the United States for it is of no use to cast responsibility 
on parties, or administrations, or statesmen extend slavery all around 
the coast of the gulf of Mexico. We have seen them take Texas 
into the Union, and agree that she should come in as a slave state, 
and have the right to multiply herself into four more slave states. 
We have seen California and New Mexico conquered by the people 


of the United States, with the deliberate consent, if not purpose, 
that slavery should be extended from the Mississippi river to the 
Pacific ocean. We have seen the constitution of the United States 
perverted by the consent of the people until that constitution, instead 
of being a law of freedom and a citadel of human rights, has come 
to be pronounced by the affected judgment and willing consent of 
the highest tribunal of the United States, yet enjoying the confidence 
and support of the people, to be a tower and bulwark of human 
slavery, of African bondage ; and you have it now announced by the 
government of the United States, which you yourselves brought into 
power, that wherever the constitution of the United States goes, it 
carries, not freedom with the eagles of conquest, but hateful bondage. 
If the principle which you have thus permitted to be established is 
true, then there is not an arsenal within the United States, not a 
military or naval school of the federal government, not a federal 
jail, not a dock yard, not a ship that traverses the ocean bearing the 
American flag in any part of the world, where the law, the normal 
law, the law by which men are tried and judged, is not a law by 
which every man whose ancestor was a slave is a slave, and by 
which property in slaves, not freedom of man, is the real condition 
of society under the federal system of government. I can only ask 
you to consider for a moment how near you have come to losing 
everything which you enjoy of this great interest of freedom. The 
battle culminated at last on the fields of Kansas. 

How severe and how dreadful a battle that has been, you all know. 
It was a great and desperate effort of the aristocracy of capital in 
labor, to carry their system practically with all its evils to the shores 
of the gulf of Mexico, and to cut off the Atlantic states from all 
communication with the sister states on the Pacific, and so extend 
slavery from the centre, both ways, restoring it throughout the whole 
country. You will say that this was a very visionary attempt ; but 
it was far from being visionary. It was possible, and for a time^ 
seemed fearfully probable probable for this reason, that the land 
must have labor, and that it must be either the labor of freemen or 
the labor of slaves. Introduce slave labor in any way that you can, 
and free labor is repelled, and avoids it. Slave labor was introduced 
into this country by the opening of the African slave trade, and 
when the territory of the United States, in the interior of the conti 
nent, was open to slavery with your "consent and mine, nothing then 


would have remained but to reopen and restore the African slave 
trade ; for it is prohibited only by a law, and the same power that 
made the law could repeal and abrogate it. The same power that 
abrogated the Missouri compromise in 1854, would, if the efforts to 
establish slavery in Kansas had been successful, have been, after a 
short time, bold enough, daring enough, desperate enough, to have 
repealed the prohibition of the African slave trade. And, indeed, 
that is yet a possibility now ; for, disguise these issues now before 
the American people, as they may be disguised by the democratic 
party, yet it is nevertheless perfectly true, that if you forego your 
opposition and resistance to slavery, if this popular resistance should 
be withdrawn, or should, for any reason, cease, then the African 
slave trade, which at first illegally renews itself along the coasts of 
our southern states, would gradually steal up the Mississippi, until 
the people, tired with a hopeless resistance, should become indifferent, 
and African slavery would once more become the disgraceM trade 
of the American flag. 

Now, all these evils would have happened, all this abandonment 
of the continent of North America to slavery would have happened, 
and have been inevitable, had resistance to it depended alone on the 
people of the thirteen original states. We were already overpowered 
there. From one -end of the Atlantic states to the other, there were, 
in 1850, scarcely three states which did not declare that henceforth 
they gave up the contest, and that they were willing that the people 
of the new territories might have slavery or freedom, and might 
come into the Union as slave states, or as free states, just as they 

When that had happened, what would have followed? Why, 
that the people who had the right to slavery if they pleased, had the 
right to get slaves if they pleased. How, then, were we saved ? Ifc 
seems almost as if it was providential that these new states of the 
northwest, the state of Michigan, the state of Wisconsin, the state 
of Iowa, the state of Ohio, founded on this reservation for freedom 
that had been made in the year 1787, matured just in the critical 
moment to interpose, to rally the free states of the Atlantic coast, to 
call them back to their ancient principles, to nerve them to sustain 
them in the contest at the capitol, and to send their noble and true 
sons and daughters to the plains of Kansas, to defend, at the peril 
of their homes, and even their lives, if need were, the precious soil 


which had been abandoned bj the government to slavery, from the 
intrusion of that, the greatest evil that has ever befallen our land. 
You matured in the right time. And how came you to mature? 
How came you to be better, wiser, than we of the Atlantic states ? 
The reason is a simple one, perfectly plain. Your soil had been never 
polluted by the footprints of a slave. Every foot of ours had been 
redeemed from slavery. You are a people educated in the love of 
freedom, and to whom the practice of freedom and of democracy 
belongs, for every one of you own the land you cultivate, and no 
human being that has ever trodden it has worn the manacles of a 
slave. And you come from other regions too. You come from the 
south, where you knew the evils of slavery. You come from Ger 
many and from Ireland, and from Holland, and from France, and 
from all over the face of the globe, where you have learned by expe 
rience the sufferings that result from aristocracy and oppression. 
And you brought away with you from your homes the sentiments, 
the education of freemen. You came then just at the right moment. 
You came prepared. You came qualified. You came sent by the 
Almighty to rescue this land and the whole continent from slavery. 
Did ever men have a more glorious duty to perform, or a more 
beneficent destiny before them than the people of the northwestern 
angle that lies between the Ohio river and the great lakes and the 
Mississippi ? I am glad to see that you are worthy of it, that you 
appreciate it. 

It does not need that I should stimulate you by an appeal to your 
patriotism, to your love of justice, and to your honor, to perfect this 
great work, to persevere in it until you shall bring the government 
of the United States to stand hereafter as it stood forty years ago, a 
tower of freedom, and a refuge for the oppressed of all lands, instead 
of a bulwark of slavery. I prefer rather to deal in what may per 
haps be not less pleasing to you, and that is, to tell you that the 
whole responsibility rests henceforth directly or indirectly on the 
people of the northwest. Abandon that responsibility, and slavery 
extends from the gulf of Mexico to the gulf of St. Lawrence on 
the Atlantic coast. There can be no virtue in commercial and man 
ufacturing communities to maintain a democracy, when the democ 
racy themselves do not want a democracy. There is no virtue in 
Pearl street, in Wall street, in Court street, in Chestnut street, in any 
other stieet of great commercial cities, that can save the great demo- 


cratic government of ours, when you cease to uphold it with your 
intelligent votes, your strong and mighty hands. You must, there 
fore, lead us as we heretofore reserved and prepared the way for you. 
We resign to you the banner of fruman rights and human liberty, 
on this continent, and we bid you be firm, bold and onward, and then 
you may hope that we will be able to follow you. > 

I have said that you are to have the responsibility alone. I have 
shown you that in the Atlantic northern states we were dependent 
on you. I need not tell you that at present you can expect no effec 
tive support or sympathy in the Atlantic southern states. 

You must demonstrate the wisdom of our cause by argument, by 
reason, by the firm exercise of suffrage, in every way in which the 
human intelligence and human judgment can be convinced of truth 
and right you must demonstrate it, giving line upon line, and pre 
cept upon precept, overcoming passion and prejudice and enmity, 
with gentleness, with patience, with loving kindness to your brethren 
of the slave states, until they shall see that the way of wisdom which 
you have chosen is also the path of peace. The southwest are 
sharers with you of the northwest in this great inheritance of empire. 
It belongs equally to them and to you. They have plains as beauti 
ful. They have rivers as noble. They have all the elements of 
wealth, prosperity and power that you have. Still from them, from 
Kentucky and Tennessee, from Missouri and Arkansas, from Ala 
bama and Mississippi and Louisiana, you will for the present receive 
no aid or support ; but you will have to maintain your principles in 
opposition, although I trust not in defiance of them and that, for 
the simple reason that in the great year 1787, when Mr. Jefferson 
proposed that slavery should be excluded in all the public domain 
of the United States, lying southwest, as well as that lying north 
west of the Ohio river, those states had not the forecast, had not the 
judgment, to surrender the temporary conveniences and advantages 
of slavery, and to elect, as your ancestors chose for you, the great 
system of free labor. They chose slavery, and they have to drag 
out, for some years yet, not long, not so long as some of you will live, 
but still so long that they will be a drag and a weight upon your 
movements, instead of lending you assistance they have got to drag 
out to the end their system of slave labor. You have, therefore, as 
you see, the whole responsibility. It depends upon you. You have 
no reliance upon the Atlantic states of the east, north or south. You 


have the opposition of the southern states on either side of the Alle 
ghany mountains ; but still the power is with you. You are situated 
where all powers have ever been, that have controlled the destiny of 
the nation to which they belonged. You are in the land which pro 
duces the wheat and the corn, the cereal grains the land that is 
covered with the oak, and where they say the slave cannot live. 
They are in the land that produces cotton and sugar and the tropical 
fruits in the land where they say the white man cannot labor ; in 
the land where the white man must perish if he have not a negro 
slave to provide him with food and raiment. They do, indeed, com 
mand the mouths of the rivers ; but what is that worth, except as 
they derive perpetual supplies, perpetual moral reinvigoration, from 
the hardy sons of the north that reside around the sources of those 
mighty rivers? 

I am sure that in this I am speaking only words of truth and 
experience. The northwest is by no means so small as you may 
think it ; I speak to you because I feel that I am, and during all my 
mature life have been, one of you. Although of New York, I am 
still a citizen of the northwest. The northwest extends eastward to 
the base of the Alleghany mountains, and does not all of western 
New York lie westward of the Alleghany mountains ? Whence 
comes all the inspiration of free soil which spreads itself with such 
cheerful voices over all these plains ? Why, from New York west 
ward of the Alleghany mountains. 1 The people before me who 
are you but New York men, while you are men of the northwest? 
It is an old proverb, that men change the skies, but not their 
minds, when they emigrate ; but you have changed neither skies nor 

I will add but one word more. This is not the business of this 
day alone. It is not the business of this year alone. It is not the 
business of the northwest alone. It is the interest, the destiny of 
human society on the continent. You are to make this whole conti 
nent, from north to south, from east to west, a land of freedom and 
a land of happiness. There is no power on earth now existing, no 
empire existing, or as yet established, that is to equal or can equal 

1 At this point of the speech a large number of voices in the audience responded, indicating 
the different counties in New York, from which they had emigrated, " Cayuga," " Genesee," 
"Seneca," "Tates," Ontario, 1 &c., so that Mr. Seward remarked: "Why, I thought I was 
midway between the Lakes and the Mississippi, but I find I am at home among old neighbors 
and friends." 


in duration the future of the United States. It is not for ourselves 
alone ; you have the least possible interest in it. It is, indeed, for 
those children of yours. Old John Adams, when, at the close of the 
revolutionary war, he sat down and counted up the losses and sacri 
fices that he had endured and made, rejoiced in the establishment of 
the independence which had been the great object of his life, and 
said : " I have gained nothing. I should have been even more com 
fortable, perhaps, and more quiet, had we remained under the British 
dominion ; but for my children, and for their children, and for the 
children of the generation that labored with me, I feel that we have 
done a work which entitles us to rejoice, and call upon us by our 
successes to render our thanks to Almighty God." 


IT has been by a simple rule of interpretation that I have studied 
the constitution of my country. That rule has been simply this : 
That by no word, no act, no combination into which I might enter, 
should any one human being of the generation to which I belong, 
much less any class of human beings, of any nation, race or kindred, 
be repressed and kept down in the least degree in their efforts to 
rise to a higher state of liberty and happiness. Amid all the glosses 
of the times, amid all the essays and discussions to which the con 
stitution of the United States has been subjected, this has been the 
simple, plain, broad light in which I have read every article and 
every section of that great instrument. Whenever it requires of 
me that this hand shall keep down the humblest of the human race, 
then I will lay down power, place, position, fame, everything, rather 
than adopt such a construction or such a rule. If, therefore, in this 
land there are any that would rise, I extend to them, in God s name, 
a good speed. If there are any in foreign lands who would improve 
their condition by emigration, or if there be any here who would 
go abroad in the search of happiness, in the improvement of their 
condition, or in their elevation to a higher state of dignity and hap 
piness, they have always had, and always shall have, a cheering 
word and such efforts as I can consistently make in their behalf. 

Extract from Mr. SewarcTs speech, at Madison, September 11, 1860. 

VOL. IV. 42 



ONE needs to have had something of my own experience of living 
in a state at an early period of its material development and social 
improvement, and growing up with its growing greatness, to be able to 
appreciate the feeling with which I arn oppressed, on this my first 
entrance into the capital of the state of Minnesota. Every step of 
my progress since I reached the Northern Mississippi has been 
attended by an agreeable and constantly increasing surprise. I had 
early read the works in which the geographer had described the 
scenes around me, and I had studied these scenes minutely in the 
finest productions of art ; but still the grandeur, the luxuriance, the 
geniality of the region were but imperfectly conceived before I saw 
these sentinel walls that look down on the Mississippi seen as I 
beheld them just when the earliest tinges of the fall give the rich 
variety of hues to the American forest. I thought how much of 
taste and genius had been wasted in celebrating the highlands of 
Scotland and the mountains of Palestine, before civilized man had 
reached the banks of the Mississippi. And then that beautiful lake 
Pepin scene, at the close of the day, when the autumnal green of the 
shores was lost in a deep blue hue that emulated that of the 
heavens ; the moistened atmosphere reflected the golden rays of the 
setting sun, and the skies above seemed to come down to complete 
the gorgeous drapery of the scene. It was a piece of upholstery 
such as no hand but that of nature could have made. This magnifi 
cent lake, I said to myself, is a fitting vestibule to the capital of the 
state of Minnesota a state which I have loved, which I ever shall 
love, for more reasons than time would now allow me to mention, 
but chiefly because it was one of three states which my own voice 
had been potential in bringing into the Federal Union. Every one 
of the three was a free state, and I believe on my soul that, of the 
whole three, Minnesota is the freest of all. 


I find myself now, for the first time, on the highlands in the cen 
ter of the continent of North America, equidistant from the waters 
of Hudson s bay and the gulf of Mexico, from the Atlantic ocean to 
the ocean in which the sun sets here on the spot where spring up, 
almost side by side, and so near that they may kiss each other, the 
two great rivers of the continent, the one of which pursuing its 
strange, capricious, majestic, vivacious course through rapids and 
cascade, lake after lake, bay after bay, and river after river, till, 
at last, after a course of two thousand five hundred miles, it brings 
your commerce into the ocean midway to the ports of Europe, and 
the other, which meandering through woodland and prairie a like 
distance of two thousand five hundred miles, -taking in tributary 
after tributary from the east and from the west, bringing together 
the waters from the western declivity of the Alleghanies and the 
torrents which roll down the eastern sides of the Rocky mountains, 
finds the Atlantic ocean in the gulf of Mexico. Here is the central 
place where the agriculture of the richest regions of North America 
must begin its magnificent supplies to the whole world. On the 
east, all along the shore of lake Superior, and on the west, stretching 
in one broad plain, in a belt across the continent, is a country where 
state after state is yet to rise, and whence the productions for the 
support of human society in other crowded states must forever go 
forth. This is then a commanding field ; but it is as commanding 
in regard to the commercial future, for power is not to reside perma 
nently on the eastern slope of the Alleghany mountains, nor in the 
seaports of the Pacific. Seaports have always been controlled at 
last by the people of the interior. The people of the inland and 
of the upland, those who inhabit the sources of the mighty waters, 
are they who supply all states with the materials of wealth and 
power. The seaports will be the mouths by which we shall commu 
nicate and correspond with Europe, but the power that shall speak 
and shall communicate and express the will of men on this conti 
nent, is to be located in the Mississippi valley, and at the source of 
the Mississippi and the St. Lawrence. In other days, studying what 
might perhaps have seemed to others a visionary subject, I have 
cast about for the future the ultimate central seat of power of the 
North American people. I have looked at Quebec and at New Or 
leans, at Washington and at San Francisco, at Cincinnati and at St. 
Louis, and it has been the result of my best conjecture that the seat 


of power for North America would yet be found in the valley of 
Mexico ; that the glories of the Aztec capital would be renewed, and 
that city would become ultimately the capital of the United States 
of America. But I have corrected that view, and I now believe 
that the last seat of power on the great continent will be found some 
where within a radius not very far from the very spot where I stand, 
at the head of navigation on the Mississippi river and on the great 
Mediterranean lakes. 

I have often seen, but never with great surprise, that on the occa 
sion of a revival of religion, the oldest, the most devout, the most 
religious preacher he whose life had seemed to me and to the 
world to be better ordered according to the laws of God and of affec 
tion to mankind, has discovered that he had been entirely mistaken 
in his own experience, and that he now found out, to his great grief and 
astonishment, that he had never before been converted, and that now 
for the first time he had become a Christian. While standing here, I 
almost fall into the notion that I am in the category of that preacher, 
and although I cannot charge myself with having been really a sedi 
tious or ever a disloyal citizen, I have yet never exactly and com 
pletely understood the duties that I owed to society and the spirit 
that belongs to an American citizen. I have never until now occu 
pied that place whence I could grasp the whole grand panorama of the 
continent, for the happiness of whose present people and of whose 
future millions of millions, it is the duty of an American statesman to 
labor. I have often heard it said, and indeed I have thought that one 
could get a very adequate idea of the greatness of this republic of ours, 
if he could stand as I have stood on the deck of an American ship of 
war, as she crossed the Mediterranean, passed through the Ionian 
islands, ascended the Adriatic, bearing at the mast-head the stripes and 
stars that command respect and inspire fear equally among the semi- 
barbarians of Asia and the most polite and powerful nations of Europe. 
I have often thought that I could lift myself up to the conception 
of the greatness of this republic of ours by taking a stand on the 
terrace of the capitol of Washington, and contemplating the concen 
tration of the political power of the American people, and then fol 
lowing out in my imagination the dispatches by which that will, 
after being modified by the executive and legislative departments, 
went forth in laws, and edicts, and ordinances for the government 
and direction of a great people. But, after all, no such place as 


either of these is equal to that I now occupy. I seem to myself to 
stand here on this eminence as the traveler who climbs the dome of 
St. Peter s in Eome. There, through the opening of J ihat dome, he 
seems to himself to be in almost direct and immediate communica 
tion with the Almighty Power that directs and controls the actions 
and the wills of men, and he looks down with pity on the priests 
and votaries below who vainly try, by poring over beads and rituals, 
to study out and influence the mind of the Eternal. Standing here 
and looking far off into the northwest, I see the Eussian as he 
busily occupies himself in establishing seaports and towns and forti 
fications, on the verge of this continent, as the outposts of St. Peters 
burg, and I can say, " Go on, and build up your outposts all along 
the coast up even to the Arctic ocean they will yet become the out 
posts of my own country monuments of the civilization of the 
United States in the northwest." So I look off on Prince Rupert s land 
and Canada, and see there an ingenious, enterprising and ambitious 
people, occupied with bridging rivers and constructing canals, rail 
roads and telegraphs, to organize and preserve great British provinces 
north of the great lakes, the St. Lawrence, and around the shores of 
Hudson bay, and I am able to say, " It is very well, you are build 
ing excellent states to be hereafter admitted into the American Union. 7 
I can look southwest and see, amid all the convulsions that are break 
ing the Spanish American republics, and in their rapid decay and dis 
solution, the preparatory stage for their reorganization in free, equal 
and self-governing members of the United States of America. In 
the same high range of vision I can look down on the states and the 
people of the Atlantic coast of Maine and Massachusetts, of ISTew 
York and Pennsylvania, of Virginia and the Carolinas, and Georgia, 
and Louisiana, and Texas, and round by the Pacific coast to Califor 
nia and Oregon. I can hear their disputes, their fretful controver 
sies, their threats that if their own separate interests are not grati 
fied and consulted by the federal government they will separate 
from this Union. I am able to say, "peace, be still." These sub 
jects of contention and dispute that so irritate and anger and pro 
voke and alienate you, are but- temporary and ephemeral. These 
institutions which you so much desire to conserve, and for which 
you think you would sacrifice the welfare of the people of the con 
tinent, are almost as ephemeral as yourselves. The man is born to-day 
who will live to see the American Union, the American people, 


coming into the harmonious understanding that this is the land for 
the white man, and that whatever elements there are to disturb its 
present peace or irritate the passions of its possessors, will in tHe 
end, and that end will come before long, pass away, ineffectual in 
any way to disturb the harmony of, or endanger the stability of this 
great Union. 

It is under the influence of reflections like these that I thank God 
here to-day, more fervently than ever, that I live in so great a 
country as this, and that my lot has been cast in it, not before the 
period when political society was to be organized, nor yet in that 
distant period when it is to collapse and fall into ruin, but that I 
live in the very day and hour when political society is to be effect 
ually organized throughout the entire continent. We seem here, and 
now for the first time, to be conscious of that high necessity which 
compels every state in the Union to be, not separate and isolated, but 
one part of the American republic. We see and feel more than ever, 
when we come up here, that fervent heat of love and attachment to 
the region in which our lot is cast, that will not suffer the citizens of 
Maine, the citizens of South Carolina, the citizens of Texas, or the 
citizens of Wisconsin or Minnesota to be aliens to, or enemies of, 
each other, but which, on the other hand, compels them all to be 
members of one great political family. Aye, and we see now how 
it is that while society is convulsed with rivalries and jealousies 
between native and foreign born in our Atlantic cities and on our 
Pacific coast, and tormented with the rivalries and jealousies pro 
duced by difference of birth, of language, and of religion, here, in 
the central point of the republic, the German, and the Irishman, and 
the Italian, and the Frenchman, the Hollander and the Norwegian, 
becomes in spite of himself, almost completely in his own day, and 
entirely in his own children, an American citizen. We see the 
unity, in other words, that constitutes, and compels us to constitute, 
not many nations, not many peoples, but one nation and one people 

Valetudinarians of the north have been in the habit of seeking 
the sunny skies of the south to restore their wasting frames under 
consumption ; and invalids of the south have been accustomed to 
seek the skies of Italy for the same relief. Now you see the vale 
tudinarians of the whole continent, from the frozen north and the 
burning south, resort to the sources of the Mississippi for an atmos- 


phere which, shall restore them to health. Do you not see and feel 
here that this atmosphere has another virtue that when men from 
Maine, and from Carolina, and from Mississippi, and from New 
Hampshire, and from England and Ireland, and Scotland, from Ger 
many and from all other portions of the world come up here, the 
atmosphere becomes the atmosphere not only of health, but of liberty 
and freedom ? Do we not feel when we come up here, that we have 
not only found the temple and the shrine of freedom, but that we 
have come into the actual living presence of the goddess of freedom 
herself? Once in her presence, we see that no less capacious temple 
could be fit for the worship that is her due. I wish, my fellow citi 
zens, that all my associates in public life could come up here with 
me, and learn by experience, as I have done, the elevation and 
serenity of soul which pervades the people of the great northwest. 
It is the only region of the United States in which I find fraternity 
and mutual charity fully developed. Since I first set foot on the 
soil of the valley of the Upper Mississippi, I have met men of all 
sects and of all religions ; men of the republican party and men of 
the democratic party, and of the American party, and I have not 
heard one reproachful word, one intolerant or disdainful sentiment; 
I have seen that you can differ, and yet not disagree. I have seen 
that you can love your parties and the statesmen of your choice, 
and yet love still more the country and its rulers ; the people, the 
sovereign people ; not the squatter sovereigns scattered widecast and 
roving in distant and remote territories which you are never to enter, 
and so devised that they may be sold, and that the supreme court of 
the United States may abolish sovereignty and the sovereigns both 
together. You love the sovereignty that you possess yourselves, 
in which every man is his own sovereign, the popular sovereignty 
that belongs to me and the popular sovereignty that belongs to you ; 
the equal popular sovereignty that belongs to every other man who 
is under the government and protection of the United States. Under 
the influence of such sentiments and feelings as these, I scarcely 
know how to act or speak, when I come before you at the command 
of the republican people of Minnesota as a republican. I feel that 
if we could be but a little more indulgent a little more patient with 
each other, and a little more charitable, all the grounds on which 
we differ would disappear and pass away, just as popular sovereignty 
is passing away ; and let us all, though we cannot confess ourselves 


to be all republicans, at least agree that we all are above all parties 
American citizens. I see here, moreover, how it is, that in spite 
of sectional and personal ambition, the form and body and spirit of 
this nation organized itself and consolidated itself out of the equi 
librium of irrepressible and yet healthful political counterbalancing 
forces, and how out of that equilibrium it produced just exactly 
that one thing which the interests of this continent and of mankind 
require should be developed here and that is, a federal republic of 
separate republican or democratic states. I see here how little you 
and I, and those who are wiser and better and greater than you or 
I, have done, and how little they can do to produce the requisite 
political condition for the people of this continent, the condition of 
a free people. I see that, while we seem to ourselves to have been 
trying to do much and to do everything, and while many fancy that 
they have done a great deal, yet what we have been doing, what we 
now are doing, what we shall hereafter do, and what we and those 
who may come after us shall continue to be doing, is just exactly 
what was necessary to be done, whether we knew it or not, for the 
interests of humanity throughout the world, and therefore was cer 
tain to be done, because necessity is only another expression or 
name for the higher law. God ordains that what is useful to be 
done shall be done. When I survey American society as it is de 
veloping fully and perfectly here, I see that it is doing what the 
exigencies of political society throughout the world have at last 
rendered it necessary to be done. Society tried for six thousand 
years how to live and improve and perfect itself under monarchical 
and aristocratic systems of government, while practising a system 
of depredation and slavery on each other. The result has been all 
over the world a complete and absolute failure. At last, at the close 
of the last century, the failure was discovered, and a revelation was 
made of the necessity of a system to which henceforth men should 
cease to enslave each other, and should govern themselves. 

Nowhere, in Africa, Asia, or in Europe, was there any open field 
where this great new work of the organization of a political society 
under a more auspicious system of government, could be attempted. 
They were all occupied. This great and unoccupied continent fur 
nished the very theatre that was necessary ; and to it came all the bold, 
and the free, and the brave men throughout the world, who feel and 
know that necessity, and who have the courage, the manhood, and 


the humanity to labor to produce this great organization. Provi 
dence set apart this continent for the work, and, as I think, set apart 
and designated this particular locality for the place whence shall go 
forth continually the ever-renewing spirit which shall bring the 
people of all other portions of the continent up to a continual ad 
vance in the establishment of the system. I may make myself 
better understood by saying, that until the beginning of the present 
century, men had lived the involuntary subjects of political govern 
ment, and that the time had come when mankind could no longer 
consent to be so governed by force. The time had come when men 
were to live voluntary citizens and sovereigns themselves of the 
states which they possessed, and that is the principle of the govern 
ment established here. It has only one vital principle. All others 
are resolved into it. That one principle what is it? It is the 
equality of every man who is a member of the state to be governed. 
If there be not absolute political equality then home portion of the 
people are governed by force, and are not voluntary citizens; and 
whenever any portion of the people are governed by force, then 
you are carried so far backward again toward the old system of 
involuntary citizenship, or a government by kings, lords, and stand 
ing armies. This was the great necessity, not of the people of the 
United States alone it was not even the original conception of the 
people of the United States that a republican government was to be 
established for themselves alone, but the establishment of the repub 
lican system of the United States of America was only bringing out 
and reducing to actual practice the ideas and opinions which men 
had already formed, all over the civilized world. If you will refer 
to the action of our forefathers, you will find that while they did: 
labor, as they might well labor, to secure this government in its- 
republican form for themselves and their posterity, yet they worn 
conscious that they were erecting it as a model of refuge for the 
people of every nation, kindred and tongue under heaven. The old 
continental congress of 1787 declared that the interest of the United 
States was forever the interest of human nature, and that it was the 
political redemption of human nature that was to be worked out on 
the continent of North America; and, as I have said, it is to be 
brought to its perfection here in the valley of the Mississippi. 

The framers of the republic conceived this necessity they assumed 
this high responsibility. They never could have done so, except 

VOL. IV. 43 


for the crisis of the revolution, which kindled an unknown fire of 
patriotism within the bosom of the people and enabled them for a 
brief period to elevate themselves up above temporary and ephemeral 
interests and prejudices, and to rise to the great test of organizing 
and constituting a free and purely popular government. The people 
understood the great principle on which it was to be founded the 
political equality of the whole people ; and that they did so under 
stand it you will see in the fact that in the Declaration of Independ 
ence they lay the foundations of the great republic on the great 
truth that all men are created equal, and have inalienable rights to 
life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. But it was not the good 
fortune of our fathers to be able to find full and ample materials, all 
of the right kind, for the erection of the temple of liberty, which 
they constructed. Providence has so ordered it that uniformly per 
fect materials for any edifice which the human mind is required to 
devise, and the human hand to construct, cannot be found any 
where. If you propose to build a lime-stone house here, you may 
excavate the ground on which it is to be placed and take from the 
quarry the needed rocks and lay them all away in their proper places 
in the foundation and walls and vaulted roof; but other materials 
besides the lime-stone enter into the noblest structure you can make. 
There must be some lime, and some sand, and some iron, and some 
wood, and one must combine perfect with imperfect materials to 
make any human structure. Even the founders of a great republic 
like this, wishing and intending to place it on the principle of the. 
equality of man, had to take such materials as they found. They 
had to take society as it was, in which some were free and some 
were slaves, and to form a Union in which some were free states and 
some were slave states. They had the ideal before them, but they 
were unable to perfect it all at once. What did they do? They 
did as the architect does who raises a structure of stone and lime, 
and sand, and wood, and iron ; where there is a weakness of material, 
and where the strength of the edifice would be impaired by it, he 
applies braces, and props, and bulwarks, and buttresses to strengthen 
and fortify so as to make the weak part combine with, and be held 
together in solid connection with the firm and strong. That is what 
our fathers intended to do, and what they did do, when they framed 
the federal government. Seeing this element of slavery, which they 
could not eliminate, they said, " We will take care that it shall not 


weaken the edifice and bring it down. We will take care that 
although we cannot get rid of slaves now, the number of slaves 
hereafter shall diminish and the number of white men shall increase, 
and that ultimately the element of free white men shall be so strong 
that the element of slavery shall be inadequate to produce any 
serious danger, calamity, or disaster." How did they do this? 
They did it in a simple way by authorizing congress to prohibit, and 
practically by prohibiting, the African slave trade after the expira 
tion of twenty years from the establishment of the constitution; 
supposing that if no more slaves were imported, the American 
people, then almost unanimously in favor of emancipation, would 
be able to eliminate from the country the small amount of slavery 
which would be left to decay and decline for want of invigoration 
by the African slave trade. They did another thing. They set 
apart the territory northwest of the Ohio river, nearly all of the 
unoccupied domain of the United States, for freemen only, declaring 
that neither slavery nor involuntary servitude should ever enter on 
its soil. They did one thing more. They declared that congress 
should pass uniform laws of naturalization, so that when the impor 
tation of African slaves should cease, voluntary immigration of 
freemen from all other lands should be encouraged and stimulated. 
Thus, while unable to exclude slavery from the system, they pro 
vided for the rapid development and perfection of the principle that 
all men are born free and equal. 

And now, fellow citizens, we see all around us the results of that 
wise policy. Certain of the states concurred partially in the policy 
of the fathers. I hardly need tell you what states they were. They 
were Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont, Connecticut, New York, 
New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Some other states did not. It is 
scarcely necessary to name them. They were the six southern states 
of the Union. The six southern states said, although the constitu 
tion has arrested the slave trade and invited emigration, and adopted 
the policy of making all the men of the new states free and equal, 
yet we will adhere to the system of slavery. You see how it has 
worked in the cities of Boston, New York and Philadelphia. You 
see it in the wheat fields of New York, of Ohio, of Indiana, of Illi 
nois, of Wisconsin. You see it in the flocks and herds of Vermont 
and New Hampshire ; you see it in the cattle that multiply upon ten 
thousand hills ; you see it in the million of spindles in the manufac- 


tories of the east, and in the forges and furnaces of Pennsylvania ;. 
you see it in the crowded shipping of New York, and in her palaces 
and towers, emulating the magnificence of the old world, and grasp 
ing for itself the commerce of the globe. You see even in California 
and Oregon the same results ; you see them in the copper ore dug 
out on the banks of lake Superior, the iron in Pennsylvania, the 
gypsum in New York, the salt in Ohio and New York, the lead in 
Illinois, and the silver and the gold in the free states of the Pacific 
coast. In all these you see the fruits of this policy. Neither in 
forest, nor in mines, nor in manufactories, nor in workshop, is there 
found one African slave that turns a wheel or supplies the oil which 
keeps the machinery in motion. On the other hand, you see millions 
of freemen crowding each other in perpetual waves, rolling over from 
Europe on the Atlantic coast, and flowing on and forming great 
states on the western base of the Alleghany mountains still rolling 
on again perpetually until it constitutes new states, in which is built 
up here in Minnesota in nine years, a capital equal to the capital 
built in any slave state in the Union in two hundred years. 

You see here the fruits of this great policy of the fathers. You 
see what comes of a wise policy. But do not let us mistake it for 
policy. It is not mere policy. It is the national practice of simple 
justice, of equal and exact justice to all men, for the freedom which 
we boast so highly, which we love so dearly and so justly, which we 
prefer above every other earthly good, and without which earth is 
unfit for the habitation of man. What is it? Nothing but you 
allowing to me my rights, and I allowing to you equal rights every 
man having exactly his own the right to decide whether he will 
labor and eat, or will be idle and die; and if he will labor, for what 
he will labor, and for whom he will labor, and the right to discharge 
his employer just exactly as the employer can discharge him. You 
see the fruits of this policy in another way. Go over the American 
continent from one end of it to the other, wherever the principle of 
equality has been adopted and adhered to, and every citizen of a 
state, and every citizen of every other state, and every exile from a 
foreign nation, may write, print, speak and vote when he acquires the 
right to vote, just exactly as he pleases, and there is no man to 
molest him, no man to terrify him, no man even to complain of him. 
Now, on the other hand, go into any state which has retained the 
principle of the inequality of man, and determined that it will retain 


it to the last, and you will find the state where not even the native 
born citizen and slaveholder, certainly none but he, can express his 
opinion on the question whether the African is or is not a descend 
ant of Ham, or whether he is equal or inferior to the white man, and 
if he be inferior, whether it is not therefore the duty of the white 
man to enslave him. No, "mum s the word " for freemen wherever 
slavery is retained and cherished. 

Silence on matters of state, the absence of freedom of speech and 
of freedom of the press what kind of freedom is that? Is there a 
man in Minnesota who would for one day consent to live in it if he 
were deprived of the right to hurrah for Lincoln and Hamlin, or 
hurrah for Douglas, to hurrah for freedom, or to hurrah for slavery, 
just as he liked? I think that these one hundred and eighty thou 
sand people who inhabit here, would be seen moving right out east 
and west, into British .North America, or into Kamtschatka, any 
where on the earth to get out of this luxuriant and beautiful valley, 
if any power, human or divine, should announce to them that hence 
forth they spoke and voted their real sentiments and their real choice 
at their peril of imprisonment or death. Now, fellow citizens, you 
need only look around through such a mass of American citizens as 
I can see before me, and you may go over all the free states in the 
Union, and you will find them every day of the week somewhere 
gathered together, expressing their opinions and preparing to declare 
their will just exactly as you are doing. Does this happen to be so ? 
Is it mere chance ? Is it, indeed, even man s work, or device, or 
contrivance, that in this land, on this side of the great lakes, on this 
.side of the Atlantic ocean, on this side of the Pacific ocean, men may 
all meet or may all stay apart, may all speak, think, act, print, write 
and vote just exactly as they please, while there is no other land on 
the face of the earth where ten men can be assembled together to 
exercise the same rights without being dispersed by an armed band 
of soldiers? Does it happen to be so in the United States, or is it 
the result of that higher law controlling the destinies of races, of 
nations, of men, so as to bring out and perfect here the model of what 
I have described as the true constitution of society, of a self-govern 
ing people, on the principle of equal and exact justice to all classes 
and conditions of men ? Manifestly it is not of man s device or con 
trivance, but it is the work of a superior power that 

- " shapes our ends. 
Rough hew them how we will !" 


Now, while we see how obviously this is the result of controlling 
necessity, in accordance with the very purpose of a benevolent Pro 
vidence, how singular and strange it is that so much pains have been 
taken by ourselves to defeat and prevent the organization and per 
fection of this very system of government among us ! What has 
not the nation seen done and permitted to be done in the federal 
council at Washington ? They have permitted statutes to be made 
and judgments to be rendered in their name, declaring that men are 
not freemen, but that in certain conditions, and in certain places, 
they are merchandise. The supreme court of the United States of 
America never rises without recording judgments and directing 
executions for the sale of men, women and children as merchandise ; 
and this is done in your name and mine. The constitution never 
declared, never intended to declare, was never by its framers under 
stood to declare, that any man could be a chattel or merchandise. 
All that it did declare was that all men should have rights to per 
sonal security and personal liberty within the action of the federal 
government. You see how we have had new religious systems 
established among us, teaching that the African slaves among us, 
nay, all Africans, are the children of an accursed parent, who was 
cursed not only in his own person and in his own day and genera 
tion, but in all his generations, and teaching that everybody had a 
right to curse anew these accursed generations to the end of time. 
We have had religious creeds established among us, that it is our 
duty to capture and return to slavery slaves escaping from their 
owners, because, they say, St. Paul sent back Onesimus, as they say, 
to his master even teaching that it is the duty of men and a free 
state, not only to submit to laws passed for the purpose of extending 
human bondage, but even personally to execute them. You have seen 
how, in a portion of the Union, the great governing race, the white 
man, actually deprive themselves in a large degree of the advantages 
of education and instruction for greater security of keeping slaves in 
ignorance, so that schools and colleges and universities, as they are 
organized and perfected in the free states, and now in most of the 
states in western Europe, are, if not unpopular, yet feebly maintained 
in the slave states. You have seen how we have, in order to coun 
teract the policy of our forefathers, surrendered in 1820 the state of 
Missouri, and all that part of the territory of Louisiana that lies 
south of 36 30 , to slavery, and contented ourselves with saving to- 


ireedom what lay north of that line ; and you have seen how, only 
forty years afterward, in order to counteract and entirely defeat the 
policy of the fathers in establishing such institutions as those, we 
surrendered and gave up the whole of what we had saved in 1820, 
abandoning Kansas and the whole of our possessions from one end 
of the continent to the other, to be made slave colonies and slave 
states, if slave owners could make them so, and agreeing that we 
would receive them into the Union, as we had already agreed to 
receive four slave states out of Texas, to the end that this govern 
ment might not continue to be, and develop itself to be a government 
founded on the equality of man, but should be and remain forever a 
government founded on the principle of property in man. You 
iiave seen, within the last thirty years, how the congress of the United 
States, in order to defeat this great policy, has suppressed, for a period 
of nearly ten years, freedom of debate and the right of petition on the 
subject of slavery in the house of representatives and in the seriate of 
the United States. You know now how the mails of the United 
States are subject to espionage, to the end that any paper, or letter, 
or writing that shall argue for freedom against slavery, shall be 
abstracted and destroyed and withdrawn in order to fortify the power 
of slavery. You have seen the federal government connive and 
cooperate and combine with the slave party in endeavoring to force 
slavery on the people of Kansas when they had refused to accept it 
Did I say that you have seen all these things done? I am sorry to 
say that most of you have, at some time of your lives, given your 
consent by your voices, and even your votes, that they should be 
done. They are our own work. 

The American people have adopted these measures to counteract 
and subvert the very principle of freedom established by the consti 
tution. And now, since so much has been done, let us see what is 
the result after all, what advantage has slavery got, and what has 
freedom lost. While we have for forty years given our free consent 
that freedom should be stripped of everything, and that slavery 
should be invested with all power and domination, why they have 
arrested the march of emancipation at the line of Pennsylvania, nnd 
have left the ancient slavery still lingering in Delaware, Maryland, 
Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia, and they have 
added to them five or six slave states in the southwestern angle of 
the United States. That is all that they have done, and on the other 


hand the great vital principle of the republic this principle of free 
dom and equality what has it not done ? It has abolished slavery 
in seven of the original slave states, and has produced new and strong 
and most vigorous and virtuous states, all along the shores of the 
great lakes, and all across to the valley of the Upper Mississippi, 
and it has established freedom beyond the power of being overthrown, 
on the coast of the Pacific ocean. Certainly, since we can lay so 
little claim to having produced these results by our own work or 
wisdom or virtue, what could have secured them but that overruling 
Power, which, by its higher laws, controls even the perverse wills of 
men, and which means nothing less than that this shall be, hence 
forth and forever as it was established in the beginning a land not 
of slavery, but a land of freedom. 

Either in one way or the other, whether you agree with me in 
attributing it to the interposition of Divine Providence or not, this 
battle has been fought this victory has been won. Slavery to-day 
is for the first time not only powerless, but without influence in the 
American republic. The serried ranks of party after party which 
rallied around it to sustain and support it, are broken under the 
irresistible pressure of a new party, organized to restore freedom to 
its original and just position in the government. For the first time 
in the history of the United States, no man in a free state can be 
bribed to vote for slavery. The government of the United States 
has not the power to make good a bribe or a seduction by which to 
convert whigs or democrats to support slavery. For the first time 
in the history of the republic, the slave power has not even the 
ability to terrify or alarm the freeman so as to make him submit, or 
even to compromise. It rails now with a feeble voice, instead of 
thundering as it did in our ears for twenty or thirty years past. 
With a feeble and muttering voice they cry out that they will tear 
the Union to pieces. They complain that if we will not surrender our 
piinciples, and our system, and our right, being a majority, to rule, 
and if we will not accept their system and such rulers as they will 
give us, they will go out of the Union. " Who s afraid 1 ?" No 
body s afraid. Nobody can be bought. Now, fellow citizens, let 
me ask you, since you are so prompt at answering, suppose at any 
time within the last forty years we could have found the American 
people in the free states everywhere just as they are in the free 

IHere hundred? of voices responded, "Nobody !" 


states now, in such a frame of mind that there was no party that 
could be bought, nobody that could be scared how much sooner do 
you think this revolution would have come in which we are now 
engaged ? I do not believe there has been one day from 1787 until 
now when slavery had any power in the government, except what 
it derived from buying up men of weak virtue, little principle and 
great cupidity, and terrifying men of weak nerves in the free states. 

(And now I ask what has made this great political change ? How 
is it that the American people who, only ten years ago, said, " Take 
part if you will, take all if you must," who, only six years ago, 
said, " Take Kansas, carry slavery over it peacefully if you can, 
forcibly if you must," who, when the widow s lament and the blood 
of the martyrs of liberty cried out from the ground and appealed to 
them for help and sympathy, announced, "Let Kansas shriek," 
how is it that in the space of six years you have all become the 
whole people of the north and of the northwest, the whole people 
of the free states have become all at once so honest that none 
of them can be bought, so brave that none of them can be terrified ? 
I will tell you. Theorists and visionaries on the Atlantic coast, who, 
of all men in the world, were safest from the invasion of slavey, 
and had least to suffer from it, while these prairies and fields and 
wildernesses were as yet being filled up and unorganized, could not 
be convinced of the imminence of the danger. It has been next to 
impossible to convince the man who lives on the sidewalk in an 
Atlantic city, or even the farmer in his field in Ontario, or Cayuga, 
or Berks, or Windham, or Suffolk, or any one of the counties of the 
eastern states, that it was a matter of very great consequence whether 
slaves or freemen constitute the people, the ruling powers of the new 
states. But just in the right moment when the battle was as good 
as lost, the immigration from the eastern suites and from the old 
world, into Michigan and Wisconsin and Minnesota and Iowa, rose 
up in the exercise and enjoyment of that freedom which had been 
saved to them by the ordinance of 1787, and appreciating its value 
and importance, and feeling every man for himself that he neither 
would be a slave, nor make a slave, nor own a slave, nor allow any 
other man to make or buy or own a slave within the state to which 
they belonged. They came like the army of Blucher to the rescue, 
and the field of Waterloo was won. The northwest has vindicated 
the wisdom of the statesmen of 1787, and the virtue of the Ameri- 

VOL. IV. 44 


can people ; and now, since you were so determined that slavery 
should be arrested, and that freedom should henceforth be national 
and slavery only sectional, we of the Atlantic states are becoming 
just as honest and just as brave as you are. 

But I must not be misinterpreted. I have said that this battle 
was fought and this victory won. I said so in the senate of the 
United States four years ago, and I was thought to have thereby 
been demoralizing instead of encouraging the great army of freedom 
to consummate its triumph. I knew better. I knew that men work 
all the better and all the braver when they have hope and confi 
dence of success and triumph instead of contending under the influ 
ence of despondency or despair. This battle is fought and this 
victory is won, provided nevertheless that you remain determined 
to maintain the great republican party under its great and glorious 
leader, Abraham Lincoln, in inaugurating its principles into the 
administration of the government, and provided you stand by him 
in his administration, if it shall be, as I trust it will, a wise and just 
and good one, until the adversary shall find out that he has been 
beaten, and shall voluntarily retire from the field. Unless you do 
that there still is danger that all that has been gained may be lost. 

There is one danger remaining one only. Slavery can never 
more force itself, or be forced, from the stock that exists among us 
into the territories of the United States. But the cupidity of trade 
and the ambition of those whose interests are identified with slavery, 
are such that they may clandestinely and surreptitiously reopen, either 
within the forms of law or without them, the African slave trade, 
and may bring in new cargoes of African slaves at one hundred dol 
lars a head, and scatter them into the territories, and once getting 
possession of new domain they may again renew their operations 
against the patriotism of the American people. Therefore it is I 
enjoin upon you all to regard yourselves as men who, although you 
have achieved the victory and are entitled even now, it seems, to 
laurels, are nevertheless enlisted for the war and for your natural 
lives. You are committed to maintain the great policy until it shall 
have been so firmly established in the hearts and wills and affections 
of the American people, that there shall never be again a departure 
from it. We look to you of the northwest to finally decide whether 
this ; s to be a land of slavery or of freedom. The people of the 
northwest are to be the arbiters of its destiny ; the virtue that is to 


save the nation must reside in the northwest, for the simple reason 
that it is not the people who live on the sidewalks and who deal in 
merchandise on the Atlantic or the Pacific coasts, that exercise the 
power of government, of sovereignty, in the United States. The 
political power of the United States resides in the owners of the 
land of the United States. The owners of workshops and of the 
banks are in the east, and the owners of the gold mines are in 
the far west; but the owners of the land of the United States are to 
be found along the shores of the Mississippi river, from New Orleans 
to the source of the great river and the great lakes. On both sides 
of the noble flood are the people who hold in their hands the des 
tinies of the republic. 

I have been asked by many of you what I think of Minnesota. 
I will not enlarge further than to say, that Minnesota must be either 
a great state or a mean one, just as her people shall have wisdom 
and virtue to decide. That some great states are to be built up in 
the Mississippi valley, I know. You will no longer hereafter hear 
of the " Old Dominion " state. Dominion has been passing away 
from Virginia long ago. Pennsylvania is no longer the " Keystone " 
of the American Union, for the arch has been extended from the 
Atlantic coast to the Pacific ocean, and the center of the arch is 
moved westward also ; a new keystone is to be inserted in that aivh. 
New York will cease to be the " Empire State," and a new Empire 
State will grow up in a northern latitude, where the lands are rich, 
and where the people who cultivate them are all free and all equal ; 
where the wealth of the continent is made, not where it is exchanged. 
That state which shall be truest to the great fundamental principle 
of the government, the principle of equality, that state which shall 
be most faithful, most vigorous in developing and perfecting society 
on this principle, will be at once the New Dominion State, the new 
Keystone State, the new Empire State. If there is any state in 
the northwest that has been kinder to me than the state of Minnesota, 
and if such a consideration could influence me, then I perhaps might 
have a sympathy with the emulation of some other state. I will 
only say that every man who has an honest heart and a clear head, 
can see that these proud distinctions are within the grasp of the peo 
ple of Minnesota, and every generous heart will be willing to give 
her a fair chance to secure them. 



HAIL to the state of Illinois ! whose iron roads form the spinal 
column of that system of internal continental trade which surpasses 
all the foreign commerce of the country, and has no parallel or imi 
tation in any other country on the face of the globe. 

Hail to Chicago ! the heart which supplies life to this great system 
of railroads Chicago, the last and most wonderful of all the mar 
velous creations of civilization in North America. 

Hail to this council chamber of the great republican party ! justly 
adapted, by its vastness and its simplicity, to its great purposes 
the hall where the representatives of freemen framed that creed of 
republican faith which carries healing for the relief of a disordered 
nation. Woe ! woe ! be to him who shall add or shall subtract one 
word from that simple, sublime, truthful, beneficent creed. 1 

Hail to the representatives of the republican party ! chosen here 
by the republicans of the United States, and placed upon the plat 
form of that creed. Happy shall he be who shall give them his 
suffrage. If he be an old man, he shall show the virtue of wisdom 
acquired by experience. If he be a young man, he shall in all his 
Doming years tell his fellow men with pride, "I, too, voted for 
Abraham Lincoln." 

That republican creed is nevertheless no partisan creed. It is a 
national faith, because it is the embodiment of the one life sustaining, 
life- expanding idea of the American republic. What is the idea 
more or less than simply this : That civilization -is to be maintained 
and carried on upon this continent by federal states, based upon the 
principles of free soil, free labor, free speech, equal rights, and uni 
versal suffrage ? 

This is no new idea. This idea had its first utterance, and the 
boldest and clearest of all the utterances it has ever received, in tho 

1 See Memoir, ante, page 76. 


very few words that were spoken by this nation when it came before 
the world, took its place upon the stage of human action, asserted its 
independence in the fear of God, and in full confidence of the 
approval of mankind, and declared that henceforth it held those to 
be its enemies who should oppose it in war, and those to be its 
friends who should maintain with it relations of peace. That utter 
ance was expressed in these simple words : "We hold these truths 
to be self-evident that all men are created equal, and have the 
inalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." This 
great national idea has been working out its fruits ever since. Its 
work is seen in the perfect acceptance of it by eighteen of the thirty- 
four states of the Union or seventeen of the thirty-three, if Kansas 
is to be considered out. It is asserting itself in the establishment of 
new states throughout the west, as it has revolutionized and is revo 
lutionizing all of western and southern Europe. Why is this idea 
so effective ? It is because it is the one chief living, burning, inex 
tinguishable thought of human nature itself, entertained by man in 
every age and in every clime. 

This national idea works not unopposed. Every good and virtu 
ous and benevolent principle in nature has its antagonist, and this 
great national idea works in perpetual opposition I may be allowed 
to say in irrepressible conflict with an erroneous, a deceitful, a 
delusive idea. Do you ask what that delusive idea is? It is the 
idea that civilization ought and can be effected on this continent by 
this same form of federal states, based on the principles of slave 
labor of African slave labor, of unequal rights and unequal repre 
sentation, resulting in unequal suffrage. 

Can it be that this great creed of ours needs exposition or defense ? 
It seems to me so evidently just and true, that it requires no expo 
sition and needs no defense. Certainly in foreign countries it needs 
none. In Scotland, or France, or Germany, or Russia, on the shores 
of the Mediterranean, in Europe, or in Asia, or in Africa, you will 
never find one human being who denies the truth and the justice of 
this our national idea of the equality of men. It needs no exposition 
anywhere. It is one of those propositions that when addressed to 
thoughtful men needs no explanation or defense. And why not? 

Here we can see for ourselves this mean and miserable stream of 
black African slavery stealing along, turbid and muddy, as it is drawn 
from its stagnant source in the slave states ; we see that it is pesti- 


lential in the atmosphere ^it passes through; we can see how inade 
quate it is and unfit to irrigate a whole continent with the living 
waters of health and life ; we can see how it is that everything within 
its sphere withers and droops ; while on the other hand, we can also 
see free labor as it descends the mountain sides in torrents, is then 
gathered in rivulets, which, increasing always in volume and power, 
spread all over the land. We can well see, by the effects it has 
already produced, how it irrigates and must continue to irrigate this 
whole continent; how every good and virtuous thing lives and 
breathes by its support. We see the magical fertility which results 
from its presence, because it is around us and before us. 

We sometimes hear an argument for a political proposition made 
in this form: One offers to " take a thing to be done by the job." 
Let us imagine for a moment that there could be one man bold 
enough, great enough, and wise enough to take "by the job" the 
work of establishing civilization over this broad continent of North 
America. He would of course want to do it in the shortest time, at 
the cheapest expense and in the best manner. Now, would such a 
contractor ever dream of importing African barbarians, or of taking 
their children or descendants in this country to build up and people 
great free states all over this land, from the Alleghany mountains to 
the Pacific ocean ? Would be not, on the contrary, accept, as the 
rightful, natural, healthful and best possible agency which he could 
select, the free labor of free men, the minds, the thoughts, the wills, 
the purposes, the ambitions of enlightened freemen, such as we claim 
ourselves to be ? Would he not receive all who claimed to aid in 
such services as these, whether they were born on this soil or cradled 
in foreign lands ? 

I care not when reckless men say, in the heat of debate, or under 
the influence of interest, passion or prejudice, that it is a matter of 
indifference whether slavery shall pervade the whole land, or a part 
of the land, and freedom the residue ; that freedom and slavery may 
take their chances ; that they " don t care whether slavery is voted 
up or down." There is no man who has an enlightened conscience 
who is indifferent on the subject of human bondage. There is no 
man who is enlightened and honest, who would not abate part of 
his worldly wealth, if he could thereby convert this land from aland 
cursed in whole or in part with slavery, into a land of equal and 
impartial liberty. And I will tell you how I know this : I know it 


because every man demands freedom for himself, and refuses to be a 
slave. No free man, who is a man, would consent to be a slave. 
Every slave who has any manhood in hirn desires to be free; every 
man who has an unperverted reason, laments, condemns and deplores 
the practice of commerce in man. The executioner is always odious, 
even though his task is necessary to the administration of justice. 
We turn with horror and disgust from him who wields the ax. So 
the slaveholder turns with disgust from the auctioneer who sells the 
man and woman whom he has reared and held in slavery, although 
he receives the profits of the sale into his own coffers. 

I know this national idea of ours is just and right for another 
reason. It is that in the whole history of society human nature has 
never, never honored one man who reduced another man to bondage. 
The world is full of monuments in honor of men who have delivered 
their fellow men from slavery. 

Since this idea is self-evidently just, and is of itself pure, peace 
able, gentle, easy to be entreated and full of good works, will you 
tell me why it is that it has not been fully accepted by the American 
people ? Alas ! that it should be so. Perhaps I can throw light on 
that by asking another question. Is not Christianity pure, peace 
able, gentle, easy to be entreated and full of good works ? and yet 
is not the church of Jesus Christ still a church militant? Alas! 
that it should be so. Christianty explains for herself how it is that 
she is rejected of men. She says it is because men love darkness 
rather than light, because their deeds are evil. I shall not say this 
in regard to the subject of freedom. I know better. I know that 
my countrymen love light, not darkness. They are even in the state 
and disposition of the Roman governor, " almost thou persuadest me 
to be a Christian," and almost the American people are persuaded 
to be republicans. Why, then, are they not altogether persuaded ? 
The answer cannot be given without some reflection. It involves an 
examination of our national conduct and life. 

The reason why the country is only almost and not altogether 
persuaded to be republican, is because the national sense and judg 
ment have been perverted. We inherited slavery ; it is organized 
into our national life into our forms of government. It exists 
among us, unsuspected in its evils, because we have become accus 
tomed, by national habit, to endure and tolerate slavery. The effect 
of this habit arising from the presence of slavery, is to produce a 


want of moral courage among the people and an indisposition to 
entertain and examine the subject. It is not, however, the fault of 
the people. This lack of moral courage is chiefly the fault of the 
political representatives of the people. In every district in the 
United States, and for every seat in congress, the people might select 
men apparently as brave, as truthful, as fearless and as firm as Owen 
Lovejoy. Yet, you may fill the halls of congress with men from all 
the free states who seem to be as reliable as Owen Lovejoy ; but 
on the clangor of the slavery bugle in the hall they begin to waver 
and fail. They retire. They suffer themselves to be demoralized ; 
and they return to demoralize the people. Slavery never hesitates 
to raise the clangor of the trumpets to terrify the timid. 

Slavery has, too, another argument for the timid ; it is power. 
The concentration of slavery gives it a fearful political power. You 
know how long it has been the controlling power in the executive 
department of the government. Slavery uses that power, as might 
be expected to punish those who oppose it, to reward those who 
serve it. All representatives are naturally ambitious ; all representa- 
tatives like fame ; if they do not like pecuniary rewards, they like 
the distinctions of place. They like to be popular. When the 
people are demoralized, he who is constant becomes offensive and 
obnoxious ; he loses position and the party chooses some other rep 
resentative who will be less obnoxious. These demoralized repre 
sentatives inculcate among the people pernicious lessons and sustain 
themselves by adopting compromises. They compromise so far, if 
possible, as to save place and a show of principle ; they save them 
selves first, and let freedom take her chances. 

A community thus demoralized by its representatives is fearful 
of considering the subject of slavery at all. It does not like to look 
back upon its record ; it does not dare to look forward to see what 
are to be the consequences of errors. It desires peace and quiet. 
We shall see in a moment what fearful sacrifices have been made 
under the influence of this demoralization by the power of the 

The first act of demoralization was to surrender the territory of 
Arkansas and the territory of Missouri to slavery, and also by im 
plication all the rest of the territory of Louisiana acquired by 
purchase from France, that lay south of thirty-six degrees thirty 
minutes north latitude. Take up your maps when you go home r 


and observe what a broad belt of country, lying south of that line, 
was surrendered, with the states of Missouri and Arkansas, to 
slavery. Next, under the influence of this same demoralization, the 
whole of the peninsula of Florida acquired from Spain, was surren 
dered to slavery, rendering it practically useless for all the national 
purposes for which it was acquired, making it a burden instead of 
a blessing, a danger instead of a national safe-guard in the gulf of 

Then Texas was surrendered to slavery and brought in with the 
gratuitous agreement that four slave states should be made out of 
that territory. Next, in 1850, Utah and New Mexico were abandoned 
to slavery. After these events, following in quick succession, came 
the abrogation, in the year 1854, of the restriction contained in the 
Missouri compromise, by which it had been stipulated that all north 
of thirty-six degrees thirty minutes, excepting the state of Missouri, 
should be dedicated to freedom. That was abandoned to slavery to 
take it if she could get it ; and the administration of the government 
of the United States, with scarcely a protest from the people, went 
on to favor its occupation by slavery. As a legitimate consequence 
came the refusal, on the part of the national government for it was 
a practical refusal to admit Kansas into the Union because she 
would not accept slavery. 

After these measures, what right had the nation to be surprised 
when the president and the supreme court at last pronounced that 
which in no previous year either of them would have dared to assert 
that this constitution of ours is not a constitution of liberty, but 
that it is a constitution of human bondage ; that slavery is the 
normal condition of the American people on each acre of the domain 
of the United States not organized into states that is to say, that 
wherever this banner of ours, this star spangled banner, whose- 
glories we celebrate so highly wherever that banner floats over a 
national ship or a national territory, there is a land, not of freedom, 
but of slavery ! 

Thus it has happened, that the nation up to 1854 surrendered all 
the unoccupied portions of this continent to slavery, and thereby 
practically excluded freemen because experience shows that when 
you have made a slave territory, freedom avoids it; just as much 
as when you make a free state, like Kansas, shivery disappears 
from it. 

VOL. IV. 45 


I have said tbat the country was demoralized by its political rep 
resentatives ; but these political representatives have their agents. 
All men necessarily flill into some political part}^ and into some 
political parties and religious sects. To gain office in a political 
party and share its favors, when the nation was demoralized it be 
came necessary that the candidate should be tolerant of slavery. So 
religious sects were ambitious to extend their ecclesiastical sway. 
The consequence was that year by year slavery had always a party ; 
slavery had religious sect upon religious sect; church after church, 
But alas ! until the dawn of that memorable year 1854 freedom had 
no party and no religious sect throughout this whole country. 

A people who are demoralized are every day more easily operated 
upon ; they are easily kept persistently in the same erroneous habit 
which has demoralized them. The first practice for continuing to 
extend the power of slavery upon this continent, is that of alarm. 
Fears of all kinds are awakened in the public mind. The chief of 
them is the fear of turbulence, of disorder, of civil commotions, and 
of civil war. The slaveholders in the slave states very justly, 
and truthfully, and rightfully assume that slaves are the natural 
enemies of their masters; and, of course, that slaves are insidious 
enemies of the state which holds them, or requires them to be held 
in bondage ; that insidious enemies are dangerous ; and, therefore, 
in every slave state that has ever been founded in this country, a 
policy is established which suppresses freedom of speech and free 
dom of debate, so far as liberty needs advocates, while it extends 
the largest license of debate to those who advocate the interests of 
slavery. This lack of freedom of speech and freedom of debate is 
followed in slave states by the necessary consequence, that there is no 
freedom of suffrage. So that at the last presidential election the 
first when this question was ever distinctly brought before the 
American people there were no slave states in which a ballot-box 
was open for freedom, or where free men might cast their ballots 
with safety. If one side only is allowed to vote in a state, it is very 
easy to see that that side must prevail. 

If the condition of civil society is such that voting is not to be 
done safely, few men will vote. Every man who wishes, perhaps 
only consents, to express his choice is not expected to be a martyr. 
The world produces but few men willing to be martyrs, my friends, 
and I am sorry to say they have not been very numerous in our 


day. Nearly one-half of the United States, then that is, all the 
slave states are at once to be arrayed on the side of slavery ; and 
behold then ! they tell us that republicanism, which invites them to 
discuss the subject, is sectional, and they are national. But the 
slave states are not willing to rest content with this exclusion of all 
freedom, of suffrage, of speech and of debate on the subject of slavery 
within their own jurisdiction, but they require the free states to 
accept the same system for themselves. They insist that although 
they may be able at home to keep down their slaves if we will be 
quiet, yet they cannot tolerate a discussion of slavery in the free 
states, as we thereby encourage the slaves in the slave states to insur 
rection and sedition. Lest this argument might fail to reach and 
convince us, inasmuch as we, ourselves, are safe from any danger to 
result from insurrection in the slave states, they bring it home to 
our fears by declaring that their peace is of more importance than 
the interest of the nation ; that they prefer slavery even to Union ; 
that if we will not acquiesce in allowing them to maintain, fortify 
and extend slavery, then they will dissolve the Union, and we must 
all go down together, or all suffer a common desolation. There are 
few men and there ought to be few who would be so intent on 
the subject of establishing freedom that they would consent to a 
subversion of the Union to produce it, because the Union is a posi 
tive benefit, nay, an absolute necessity, and to save the Union, men 
may naturally dare to delay. Most men, therefore, very cheerfully 
prefer to let the subject of slavery rest for some better time for 
some better occasion for some more fortunate circumstance, and 
they are content to keep the Union with slavery if it cannot be kept 

You see how this has worked in demoralizing the American 
people. Less than thirty years ago the governor of Massachusetts" 
that first and freest of the states actually recommended the leg 
islature to pass laws which would delare that the meetings of citizens 
held to discuss the subject of slavery should be deemed seditious, 
and should be dissolved by the police ! The governor of the state 
of New York, who preceded me in that high office, during his ad 
ministration, and within your own lifetime and mine, actually made 
the same recommendation to the legislature of that state. What 
was recommended, but not carried out in those states by law, became 
a custom and practice ; for, as you know, when the laws did not 


dissolve the public assembly, there was a period of near twenty 
years in which no meeting of men opposed to the extension or 
aggrandizement of slavery, could be held without being dispersed by 
the mob, acting in harmony with the general opinion of the country. 

When the people of the free states were thus demoralized, what 
wonder is it, that for twelve years all debate in congress on the sub 
ject of slavery or the presentation of the subject by the people even 
in the form of a petition, was repressed and trampled under foot r 
and remained there until John Quincy Adams at last rallied a party 
around him, strong enough to restore freedom of debate in the house 
of representatives ! What wonder is it that within the last year, in 
the very face of the organization, and the onward march of the 
republican party, the administration of the federal government has 
actually, by its officers, appointed in compliance with the dictation 
of the slaveholders, abandoned the federal mails to the inspection 
and surveillance of the magistrates of the slave states ; so that they 
may abstract and commit to the flames every word that any states 
man may speak, however eloquent, able, truthful or moderate, in the 
halls of congress against slavery and in favor of freedom. 

This, fellow citizens, is your government. This is the condition 
in which you are placed, I am sorry to say but I like to be truth- 
fa! that I have no especial compliments for you of the state of 
Illinois, on this subject; for in this long catalogue of extraordinary 
concessions to slavery, under the influence of fear, I think the very 
first protest that ever came from the state of Illinois was as late as the 
year 1855 ; after all the most atrocious concessions had been made. 
You sent two senators to congress ; you insisted upon extending 
the Wilmot proviso over the territory acquired from Spain. How 
did they do it? They voted for the Wilmot proviso under your 
instructions, and they voted against it without instructions, when it 
came to the practical test. I think you made no protest until Mr. 
Douglas demanded one single and last concession "for the purpose," 
as he said, "of excluding the whole subject from congress." That 
was the abrogation of the Missouri compromise, containing the 
restrictions for the protection of freedom in the territories of Kansas 
and Nebraska. Then you sent a noble representative to the senate 
in the person of Judge Trumbull. 

I marveled when I rose here before you to-day and saw this 
immense assemblage, which no edifice, but only the streets, of Chicago 


could hold, and I wondered how it would have been had I come 
here in 1850, or even at any later day before the abrogation of the 
Missouri compromise. 

But let by-gones be by-gones. I have seen the time when 
I had as little cpurage and as little resolution on this subject as 
most of you. I was born into the demoralization I was born a 
slaveholder, and have some excuse, which you have not. All these 
things were done, not because you loved slavery, but because you 
loved the Union. 

/When slavery became identical in the public mind with the Union, 
how natural it was, even for patriotic men, to approve of, or to at 
least excuse and tolerate slavery. How odious did it become for 
men to be freesoilers, and be regarded as abolitionists, when to be 
an abolitionist was, in the estimation of mankind, to be a traitor to 
one s country, and to such a country as this is. How natural was it 
then to believe that slavery after all might not be so very bad, and 
to believe that it might be necessary and might be right at some 
times, or on some occasions, which times and occasions were always 
a good way off from themselves; especially, how natural was it, 
when the whole Christian church, with all its sects, bent itself to the 
support of the Union, mistaking the claim of slavery for the cause 
of the Union. 

How extensive this proscription for the sake and in the name of 
Union, has been and is to this day, you will see at once when I tell 
3^ou that there is not in this whole republic, from one end of it to the 
other, a man who maintains that slavery shall not be extended, who 
can secure, at the hands of his country, any part in the administra 
tion of its government from a tide-waiter in the custom house, or a 
postmaster in a rural district, to a secretary of state, a minister in a 
foreign court, or a president of the United States. How could you 
expect that a people, every one of whom is born with a possible 
chance and a fair expectation of being something perhaps presi 
dent of the United States would resist the demoralization prose 
cuted by such means ? And when it becomes a heresy, for which a 
man is deprived of position in an ecclesiastical sect to which he be 
longs, how could you expect that the members of the Christian 
churches would be bold enough to provoke the censure of the Chris 
tian world? Above all, our constitution, as we have always sup 
posed, was so framed that it gave us a judiciary which cannot err. 


which must be infallible, and must not be disputed ; and when the 
judicial authority, which has the army and the navy, through the di 
rection of the executive power, to execute its judgments and decrees, 
pronounces that every appeal made for freedom is seditious, that 
every syllable in defense of liberty is treason, and the natural sym 
pathy we feel for the oppressed is to be punished as a crime ; while 
that authority is unwilling, or at least unable to bring to punishment 
one single culprit out of the thousand of pirates who bring away 
slaves from Africa to sell in foreign lands how could you expect a 
simple agricultural people, such as we are, to be so much wiser and 
better than our presidents and vice-presidents, senators and repre 
sentatives in congress, and even our judges? 

I have brought you down to the time when this demoralization 
was almost complete. How assured its ultimate success seemed, 
after the compromise of 1850, you will learn from a fact which I 
have never before mentioned, but which I will now : Horace Mann, 
one of the noblest champions of freedom on this continent, confessed 
to me, after the passage of the slavery laws of that year, that he 
despaired of the cause of humanity. In 1854, after the repeal of 
the Missouri compromise, without producing so much alarm as a 
considerable thunder storm would do in the nation, there was only 
one man left who hoped against the prevailing demoralization, and 
who cheered and sustained me through it ; and that man, in his zeal 
to make his prediction just, was afterwards betrayed so far by his 
zeal that he became ultimately a monomaniac, and suffered on the 
gallows. That was John Brown. The first and only time I ever 
saw him was when he called upon me after the abrogation of the 
Missouri compromise, and asked me what I thought of the future. 
I said I was disappointed and saddened I would persevere, but it 
was against hope. He said, "Cheer up, governor; the people of 
Kansas will not accept slavery ; Kansas will never be a slave state." 

I took then a deliberate survey of the broad field; I considered 
all ; I examined and considered all the political forces which were 
revealed to my observation. I saw that freedom in the future states 
of this continent was the necessity of this age, and of this country. 
I saw that the establishment of this as a republic, conservative of 
the rights of human nature, was the cause of the whole world ; and 
I saw that the time had come when men, and women, and children 
were departing from their homes in the eastern states, and were fol- 


lowed or attended by men, women and children from the European 
nations all of them crowded out by the pressure of population upon 
subsistence in the older parts of the world, and all making their way 
up the Hudson river, through the Erie canal, along the railroads, by 
the way of the lakes, spreading themselves in a mighty flood over 
Michigan, Iowa, Indiana and Illinois, and even to the banks of the 
Mississippi. I knew that these emigrants were planting a town 
every day, and a state every three years, heedless and unconcerned 
as they were, thinking only of provision for their immediate wants, 
shelter and lands to till in the west I knew an interest yet unknown 
to themselves, which they would have when they should get here, 
and that was, that they should own the land themselves that slaves 
should not come into competition with them here. 

So, as they passed by me, steamboat load after steamboat load, and 
railroad train after railroad train, though they were the humblest 
and perhaps the least educated and least trained portion of the com 
munities from which they had come, I knew that they had the instinct 
of interest, and below, and deeper than that, the better instinct of, 
justice. And I said, I will trust these men ; I will trust these exiles ; 
my faith and reliance henceforth is on the poor, not on the rich ; on 
the humble, not on the great. Aye, and sad it was to confess, but 
it was so. I said, henceforth I put rny trust in this case, not in my 
native countrymen, but I put it in the exile from foreign lands. He 
has an abhorrence for, and he has never been accustomed to slavery 
by habit. Here he will stay and retain these territories free. 

I was even painfully disappointed at first, in seeing that the emi 
grants to the west had no more consciousness of their interest in this 
question when they arrived here than they had in their native coun 
tries. The Irishman who had struggled against oppression in his 
own country, failed me ; the German seemed at first but, thank God, 
not long dull and unconscious of the duty that had devolved upon 
him. This is true; but nevertheless I said that the interest and 
instincts of these people would ultimately bring them out, and when 
the states which they found and rear and fortify, shall apply for 
admission into the Federal Union, they will come, not as slave states, 
but as free states. 

I looked one step further. I saw how we could redeem all that 
had been lost; and redeem it, too, by appealing to the very passions 
and interests that had lost all. 


The process was easy. The slave states of the south had demo 
ralized the free states of the north by giving them presidencies, sec 
retaryships, foreign missions and post offices. And now, here in the 
northwest, we will build up more free states than there are slave 
states. Those free states having a common interest in favor of free 
dom, equal to that of the southern slave states in favor of slavery, 
will offer to Pennsylvania, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts 
and New Jersey, objects worthy their ambition. And to-day I see 
the very realization of it all. I can give you advocates for freedom 
in the northern states, as bold, as outspoken, as brave and as confi 
dent of the durability of the Union, as you can find for slavery in 
the southern states. Aye, and when the southern states try to 
demoralize the free states by saying they will give their trade and 
traffic, will buy silks and linens and other trumpery, provided they 
can buy their principles in the sale, and the bargain must be struck, 
I said there shall be, in those new free states in the northwest, men 
who will say, we will buy your silks and linens and your trumpery 
of every sort ; we will even buy more, and pay you quite as well, 
provided you do not betray your principles. 

All this was simply restoring the balance of the republican system, 
bringing in a proper force in favor of freedom to counteract the 
established political agencies of slavery. You have heard that I 
have said that the last democrat is born in this nation. I say so, 
however, with the qualification before used, that by democrat I mean 
one who will maintain the democratic principles which constitute the 
present creed of the democratic party ; and for the reason, a very 
simple one, that slavery cannot pay any longer, and the democrat 
does not work for anybody who does not pay. I propose to pay all 
kinds of patriots hereafter, just as they come. I propose to pay them 
f-iir consideration if they will only be true to freedom. I propose 
t<> gratify all their aspirations for wealth and power, as much as the 
slave states can. 

But, fellow citizens, we had no party for this principle. There 
was the trouble. Democracy wns the natural ally of slavery in the 
south. We were either whigs, or, if you please, Americans, some 
of us, and thank God I never was one, in the limited sense of the 
term. But the whig party or the American party, if not equally an 
ally of the slave party in the south, was, at least, a treacherous and 
unreliable party for the interests of freedom. Only one thing was 


wanting, that was to dislodge from the democratic party, the whig 
party and the native American party, men enough to constitute a 
republican party a party of freedom. 

And for that we are indebted to the kindness, unintentional, no 
doubt, of your distinguished senator, now a candidate for the presi 
dency, Mr. Douglas, who, in procuring the abrogation of the Mis 
souri compromise, so shattered the columns of these parties as to 
disintegrate them, and instantly there was the material, the prepara 
tion for the onslaught. 

Still there was wanted an occasion, and that occasion was given 
when, in an hour of madness, the democratic party and administra 
tion, with the sympathy, or at least the acquiescence, of the old line 
whigs and the native Americans, refused to allow the state of Kansas 
to exercise the perfect freedom in choosing between liberty and sla 
very, which they had promised to her, except she should exercise it 
in favor of slavery. Then came the hour. We had then the cause for 
a party, the material for a party, and we had the occasion for a party, 
and the republican party sprang into existence at once, full armed. 
I will never knowingly do evil that good may corne of it; I will 
never even wish that others may do evil that good may come of it ; 
and for the same reason that I know the evil to be certain, and the 
good only possible or problematical. But no man ever rejoiced more 
heartily over the birth of his first born than I did when I saw the 
folly and madness of the repeal of the Missouri compromise and the 
rejection of Kansas. This act, I said to myself, is the doing of pre 
sidents, of senators, of judges, of priests and of deacons; and when 
the republican party organized itself, I said now is the preparation 
for the work complete. 

How much I have been cheered in this long contest by seeing that 
only stolen, surreptitious advantages were gained by slavery in the 
form of rescripts and edicts and laws on the statute book ; while the 
cause of freedom brought in first California; next. New Mexico, 
with her constitution claiming freedom ; next, Kansas; next, Min 
nesota, and next, Oregon. You may all know, if possibly you 
remember, the song of joy, not so poetic, but as full of truth and 
exultation as the song of Miriam, which I then uttered, declaring 
that the battle was ended and the victory was won. The battle is 
ended and the victory is ours. Why, then, say they, why not with 
draw from the field ? For the simple reason that if the victor retire 

VOL. IV. 46 


from the field, the vanquished will then come back, and the battle 
will not be won. Why should the victor withdraw and surrender 
all his conquests to the conquered enemy? Why should he invite 
the enemy back upon the field, and withdraw his own legions into 
the far distance, to give him a chance to reestablish the line that has 
been broken up ? 

The republican party will now complete this great revolution. I 
know it will, because, in the first place, it clearly perceives its duties. 
It is unanimous upon this subject. We have had hesitation hereto 
fore, but the creed to which I have already adverted, which issued 
from that council chamber now before me, announces the true deter 
mination, and embodies that great, living, national idea of freedom, 
with which I began. I know that the republican party will do it, 
because it finds the necessary forces in all the free states adequate, 
I trust, to achieve success, and has forces in reserve, and increasing 
in every slave state in the Union, and only waiting until the success 
of the republican party in the free states shall be such as to warrant 
protection to debate, and free suffrage in the slave states. But, 
above all, I know it, because the republican party -has, what is 
necessary in every revolution, chosen the right line of policy. It is 
the policy of peace and moral suasion ; of freedom and suffrage ; 
the policy, not of force, but of reason. It returns kindness for 
unkindness, fervently increased loyalty for demonstrations of disloy 
alty ; patience as becomes the strong, in contention with the weak. 
It leaves the subject of slavery in the slave states to the care and 
responsibility of the slave states alone, abiding by the constitution 
of the country, which makes the slave states on this subject sover 
eign ; and, trusting that the end cannot be wrong, provided that it 
shall confine itself within its legitimate line of duty, thereby making 
freedom paramount in the federal government, and making it the 
interest of every American citizen to sustain it as such. I know 
that the republican party will succeed in this, because it is a positive 
and an active party. It is the only party in the country that is or 
can be positive in its action. You have three other parties, or forms 
of parties, but each of them without the characteristics of a party. 
You are to choose. The citizen is to choose between the republican 
party and one of these. 

! Try them now by their candidates. Mr. Lincoln represents the 
republican party. He represents a party which has determined that 


not one more slave shall be imported from Africa, or transferred 
from any slave state, domestic or foreign, and placed upon the com 
mon soil of the United States. If you elect him, you. know, arid 
the world knows, what you have got. Take the case of Mr. John 
Bell, an honorable man ; a kind man, and a very learned man, a 
very patriotic man ; a man whom I respect, and in social intercourse 
quite as much as everywhere else, as here where my word may be 
regarded as simply complimentary ; but what does Mr. John Bell, 
and his constitutional Union what is the name of his party ? Con 
stitutional Union, is it not ? What do Mr. Bell and his constitutional 
Union party propose on this question ? He proposes to ignore it 
altogether; not to know that there is such a question. If we can 
suppose such a thing possible as Mr. Bell s election by the people, 
what then ? He ignored the question until the day of election came, 
but it will not stay ignored. Kansas comes and asks or demands to 
be admitted into the Union. The Indian territory, also, south of 
Kansas, must be vacated by the Indians, and here at once the slave 
holders present the question as they will also do in the case of New 
Mexico. It will not stay ignored. It will not rest. It cannot rest. 
You have postponed the decision for four years, and that is all. 
Postponing does not settle it. When defending law suits, I have 
seen times when I thought I won a great advantage by getting ;;n 
adjournment, but I always found, nevertheless, that it was a great 
deal better to be beaten in the first instance, and try it again, than 
to hang rny hopes upon an adjournment. 

Take the other : Mr. Breckinridge represents a party that proposes 
a policy the very opposite of ours. They propose to extend slavery 
and to use the federal government to do it. Let us suppose him 
elected. Will that satisfy the American people? Will that settle 
the question ? That is only what Mr. Buchanan has already done. 
And if I should put a vote to this audience, I am sure I should get 
no vote of confidence in Mr. Buchanan. That is of course. But 
if I were to go into a Bell-and-Everett national Union party meet 
ing, as vast as this, and ask for a vote of confidence in James 
Buchanan, they would say no, just as emphatically as you do. In 
the demonstration for Mr. Douglas, which is to be made here day 
after to-morrow I shall not be here, and would not have the right to 
appear if I were but any of you have the right, by their leave, and 
you ought not to do it without, to offer and put to vote a resolution 


of confidence in James Buchanan, and you would get precisely the 
same negative response that you get here, only a little louder. Then 
the people are not going to elect Mr. Breckinridge, because he pro 
poses to follow in the footsteps of Mr. Buchanan, who is rejected. 
Grant, however, that owing to some misapprehension, or some 
strange combination, they may obtain all they hope, and indirectly, 
if not directly, m.ike Mr. Breckinridge president. Suppose Mr. 
Breckinridge elected. Does that settle the question in favor of 
slavery ? Then you have the combination, not only of the repub 
licans, and the constitutional Union party, but even of the Douglas 
paily also, to drive him out again. So in that case, too, you have 
only postponed the question for four years more, under circumstan 
ces far more serious, possibly fatal. 

You have now disposed of them all except the Douglas party. 
Mr. Douglas party is not a positive party. It proposes just what 
the Bell party proposes to ignore the question in congress. That 
is just what we find the people will not do, and will not be content 
to do under John Bell. Why should they like it better under Mr. 
Douglas? Mr. Douglas and his party say there is a better way. 
They don t want it ignored, but that it belongs to the territories, and 
the inhabitants there can settle it better and more wisely than we 
p;:n. What can they do? Have they settled it in their territories 
in favor of slavery ? Are you, the people of the free states, going 
to consent to that ? If you were, why did you not consent to the 
proposition of the president, that the people of Kansas should be 
subjected to slavery under the Lecompton constitution? The presi 
dent then said, that was the act of the people of Kansas. But if the 
people of the territory should decide in favor of freedom, are the 
slave states going to acquiesce ? No, because they have their candi 
date in the person of Mr. Breckinridge to continue the war until 
they shall regain the lost battle. 

But Mr. Douglas proposition may result in a different way. He 
says, if I understand him rightly, that it is immaterial to him, at 
least he has no right and does not propose to decide upon the ques 
tion, being indifferent whether they vote slavery up or down. Then 
they will vote slavery up in some territories, and vote it down in 
some other territories. That, fellow citizens, will be compromise; 
are you going to be satisfied with a new compromise ? You have 

Tj;,7 I/? 

( ,. ,- r- 


tried compromises, and found that they are never kept. On the 
whole, you are very sorry that they were ever made. 

But is a compromise that is brought about in that way, the irre 
sponsible act of squatter sovereignty in the territories, to satisfy the 
slave states ? They have repudiated Mr. Douglas, the ablest man 
among all their friends ; they have repudiated him altogether, because 
they will not be satisfied with a squatter sovereignty that gives any 
territory whatever to the free states. 

I have now demonstrated to you, I think, that the republican 
party is the only positive party. But I can show it by another argu 
ment. The republican party has one faith, one creed, one baptism, 
one candidate, and will have but one victory. The power of slavery 
has three creeds, three faiths, and is to have three victories. They 
have openly confessed, or rather the secret leaks out, through con 
versations and consultations, that they do not expect to get a single 
victory, any more than you expect they will. All their hope and 
endeavor is to defeat the republican party, and leave to chance the 
fruits to result from your defeat. 

Suppose they should, by combinations and coalitions, secure the 
defeat of the republican party, are you going to stay defeated ? You 
have been defeated once, have you not? Can you not bear another 
defeat? You will not have to, I am sure. But I am supposing for 
the purpose of argument that we are defeated by a coalition. Did 
any one ever know a cause that was lost when it was defeated by a 
coalition ? There was a coalition in Europe five years ago, in which 
Hungary was defeated by the coalition of Austria with Russia; but 
Hungary has risen up again to-day, and the coalition is understood 
to be dissolved. There was a coalition two or three years later, in 
which Russia was defeated by the combination of France and Eng 
land; but Russia is just as strong, just as steadily pressing on to 
ward Constantinople to-day as she has been every day from the time 
of the Czar Peter until now. And while she has abated nothing of 
her purposes, and nothing of hope, she has gained strength. So, 
all the efforts of the statesmen of both France and England are 


required to keep them from falling out with each other before the 
renewed battle begins. There is no danger and not much disgrace 
in being beaten b}^ coalitions ; and there is no danger, because 
they are coalitions. The more that coalitions are necessary, the 
less are they effectual. One party is always stronger than two other 


parties in a contest, unless the whole result is staked upon a single 

But the explanation of the whole matter is, that there is a time 
when the nation needs and will require and demand the settlement 
of subjects of contention. That time has come at last, which the 
parties in this country, both of the slaveholding states and of 
the free states, both the slaveholder and the free laboring man, 
will require an end a settlement of the conflict. It must be re 
pressed. The time has come to repress it. The people will have it 
repressed. They are not to be forever disputing upon old issues and 
controversies. New subjects for national action will come up. This 
controversy must be settled and ended. The republican party is 
the agent, and its success will terminate the contest about slavery in 
the new states. Let this battle be decided in favor of freedom in 
the territories, and not one slave will ever be carried into the terri 
tories of the United States, and that will end the irrepressible conflict. 

And the fact that it is necessary that it should be done, is exactly the 
reason why it will be done. It cannot be settled otherwise, because it 
involves a question of j ustice and of conscience. It is for us not merely 
a question of policy, but a question of moral right and duty. It is 
wrong, in our judgment, to perpetuate by our votes or to extend sla 
very. It is a very different thing when the slaveholder proposes to 
extend slavery ; for that is, with him, only a question of merchandise. 
Men, of whatever race or nation, in our estimation, are men, not mer 
chandise. According to our faitlj, they all have a natural right to be 
men, but in the estimation of the other party, African slaves are not 
men, but merchandise. It is, therefore, nothing more or less with 
them than a tariff question ; a question of protecting commerce. 
With us it is a question of human rights, and therefore when it is 
settled, and settled in favor of the right, it will stay settled just as 
every question that is settled in favor of the right always does. 

But if it be taken merely as a question of policy, it is equally 
plain that it will be settled in favor of the republican side, because 
our highest policy is the development of the resources and the in 
crease of the population, wealth and strength of the republic. 
Every man sees for himself, and no man need be told that the coal, 
the iron, the lead, the copper, the silver and the gold in our moun 
tains and plains are to be dug out by the human hand, and that the 
only hand that can dig them is the hand of a freeman. Every man 


sees that this wealth and strength and greatness are to be acquired by 
human labor, guided by human intelligence and human purpose. 
Every man knows that the slave, even if he be a white man, will 
have neither the strength, nor the intelligence, nor the virtue, nor 
even the purpose to create wealth ; for the slave has a simple line 
of interest before him it is to effect the least and consume the most. 

But I seem to myself to have fallen below the dignity and great 
ness of this question, in discussing a proposition whether free labor 
or slave labor is more expedient, or more necessary. Let me rise 
once more, and remind you that we are building a new and great 
empire ; not building it as modern Rome and Paris and Naples stand, 
upon the ruins and over the graves of tenfold greater multitudes of 
men than those who now occupy their sites ; but upon a soil where 
we are the first possessors and the first architects. The tornb and 
the catacomb in Kome and Paris and Naples are filled with relics 
and implements of human torture and bondage, showing the igno 
rance and barbarity of their former occupants. Let us, on the other 
hand, while we build up an empire, take care that we leave no mon 
ument or relic in our graves, and no trace in our history, to prove 
that we were false to the great interests of humanity. Human nature- 
is entitled to a home on this earth somewhere. Where else shall it 
be if it be not here ? Human nature is entitled, among all the nations 
of the earth, to have a nation that will truly represent, defend and 
vindicate it. What other nation shall it be, if it be not ours ? 

People of Illinois ! People of the great west ! You are all youth 
ful, vigorous, generous. Your states are youthful, vigorous and vir 
tuous. The destinies of our country, the hopes of mankind, the 
hopes of humanity rest upon you. Ascend, I pray, I conjure you, 
to the dignity of that high responsibility ! Thus acting, you will 
have peace aud harmony and happiness in your future years. The 
world, looking on, will applaud you, and future generations in all 
ages and in all regions will rise up and call you blessed. 



I PROPOSE to speak to you on this occasion of wnat concerns us 
all ; a great political question which is to be the subject of decision 
by the American people in the coming canvass. The policy of the 
federal government for forty years has been to extend and fortify 
African slave labor in the United States. 

Many who have maintained the administration and the party who- 
have carried out this policy, have been unconscious, doubtless, of 
the nature of the policy they maintained. But it is not a subject 
of dispute or cavil what has been the policy of the government of 
the country for forty years. I will give but one illustration. No 
man in the nation would have objected or could have objected to the 
admission of Texas into the Federal Union, provided it had been a 
free state. No man who objected could have objected but for the 
reason that she was not a slave state. When the question of annex 
ing Texas tried all the existing parties, and puzzled, bewildered and 
confounded the statesmen of the country, the question was finally 
decided, in a short and simple way, by the declaration of the admin 
istration of John Tyler, made by Mr. Calhoun, his secretary of state, 
that Texas must be annexed because it was a slaveholding country 
it must be annexed with the condition of subdividing it into four 
slave states. Texas must be annexed for the purpose of fortifying 
and defending the institution of slavery in the United States. This 
one single fact upon which the parties joined issue, is conclusive. 

Now, it is our purpose to reverse this policy. Our policy, stated 
as simply as I have stated that of our adversaries, is, to circumscribe 
slavery, and to fortify and extend free labor or freedom. Many prelimi 
nary objections are raised by those among you and us, who are not 
prepared to go with us to the acceptance of this issue. They say 


that they are tired of a hobby and of men of one idea ; that the 
country is too great a country, and lias too many interests to be 
occupied with one idea alone; besides that it is repulsive, offensive, 
disgusting to have "this eternal negro question" forever forced upon 
their consideration when they desire to think of white men and what 
belongs to them only. It is well, perhaps, to remove these prelimi 
nary objections before we go into an argument. 

Granting for a moment that there is wisdom in the objection to 
this eternal negro question, pray, let us ask, who raised, who has 
kept up this eternal negro question ? 

The negro question was put at rest in 1787 by the fathers of the 
republic, and it slept, leaving only for moralists and humanitarians 
the question of emancipation, a question within the states, and by 
no means a federal question. Who lifted it up from the states into 
the area of federal politics ? Who but the slaveholders, in 1820? 
They demanded that not only Missouri should be admitted as a slave 
state, located within the Louisiana purchase, but that slavery should 
be declared forever, and even that, without declaration of law, it was 
forever established and should prevail until the end of time, in Iowa, 
Kansas, Nebraska, and in every foot of the then newly acquired 
domain of the United States? It was the slaveholding power 
which raised the negro question, and it was the democratic party 
which made an alliance with that power, and which, in the north 
and in congress, raised this very offensive legislation about negroes, 
instead of legislation about white men. 

The question was put at rest by the compromise of 1820, when, 
God be praised, Iowa, Kansas and Nebraska were saved for freedom,, 
and only Arkansas and Missouri, out of the Louisiana purchase, 
surrendered to slavery. It slept again for fifteen or twenty years; 
and then the negro question was again introduced into the councils 
of the federal government and by whom? By the slave power, 
when it said that " since you have taken Iowa, Kansas and Nebraska, 
and left us only Missouri, Arkansas and Florida, out of our newly 
acquired possessions, you must now go on and annex Texas, so that 
we shall have a balance and counterpoise in this government." Then 
the democratic party again were seized with a sudden desire to extend 
the area of slavery along the gulf of Mexico, and by way of balancing 
the triumph of liberty they even went so far as to hang manacles and 

chains on the claws of the conquering eagle of the country ! 
VOL. IV. 47 


Who, then, is responsible for the eternal negro question ? Still 
such was the forbearance, the patience, the* hope without reason and 
without justice, of the friends of freedom throughout the United 
States, that the eternal negro question would have been left at rest 
then, if it had not again been brought into the federal councils in 
the years 1848 and 1850, when the slave power forced us into a war 
with Mexico, by which we acquired Upper California and New 
Mexico, and for no other purpose but that, notwithstanding all the 
advantages which slavery had gained since the Atlantic states were 
free, now, as a balance, slavery must have the Pacific coast. 

Thus, on these three different occasions, when the public mind was 
at rest on the subject of the negro, the slave power forced it upon 
public consideration and demanded aggressive action. When they 
had at last secured the consent of the people of the free states to a 
compromise in 1850, by which it was agreed that California alone 
might be free, and that New Mexico should be remanded back into 
a territorial condition because she had not established slavery then 
there was but one man in the United States Senate that would vote 
to accept New Mexico as a free state wh^n she came with her consti 
tution in her hands, and that man the humble individual who stands 
before you. Aye, you applaud me for it now, but where were your 
votes in 1850? Ah ! well, that is past. 

When they had agreed on a compromise, and had driven out of 
the senate every man but some half dozen repiesentatives who had 
opposed the aggressions of slavery, were they content to let the 
negro question rest? No, in 1854 the democracy raised the negro 
question to force slavery finally and forever throughout the whole 
republic, by abrogating the Missouri compromise. They abandoned 
the territories of Kansas and Nebraska to slave labor, and actually 
assisted aud encouraged the armies sent there by the slaveholders, to 
take forcible possession of regions which, until then, had been free. 

! what pleasure shall I have, in telling the people of Kansas 1 , 
three days hence, how that when all others were faithless, and false, 
and timid, they renewed this battle of liberty, and expelled the 
intruding slaveholder, and established forever amongst themselves 
the freedom of labor and the freedom of men on the plains of 

Were the democracy then content? Not at all. They deter 
mined in 1858, to raise the negro question once more and to admit 


Kansas into the Union, if she would come in as a slave state, 
and to keep her out indefinitely if she should elect freedom. And 
only one year later, when they found that Kansas was slipping from 
their clutches, who then raised once more the eternal negro question? 
The slave power and the administration took it up by demanding 
the annexation of Cuba, a slaveholding island of Spain, to be acquired 
at a cost of one hundred and fifty million dollars, peaceably, if it 
could be obtained for that sum, and forcibly if it should not be sur 
rendered, for the purpose of adding two slave states, well manned and 
well appointed, to balance the votes of Kansas and Minnesota, then 
expected to come into the Union as free states. 

Who has brought this issue and entered it on the record of this 
canvass? The slaveholding party the democratic party. They 
held their convention first in this campaign at Charleston. They pre 
sented again the everlasting negro question, nothing more, nothing 
less. They differed about the form, but they gave us, nevertheless, 
the everlasting negro question in two different parts, giving us our 
choice to take one or the other, as they gave the people of Kansas 
the choice, whether they would take slavery pure and simple, or 
take it anyhow and get rid of it afterward if they could. Of one 
part, Mr. Breckinridge is the representative. It is presented plainly 
and distinctly ; it is that slaves are merchandise and property in the 
territories under the constitution of the United States, and that the 
national legislatures and the courts must protect it in the territories, 
and no power on earth can discharge them of the responsibility 
Of the other, Mr. Douglas is the representative, and the form in 
which it is presented by those who support him is : What is the 
best way not to keep slavery out of the territories ? 

I doubt very much whether slaveholders have so great a repug 
nance to the negro and to the eternal negro question as they affect. 
On the other hand, being accustomed to sit in the federal councils, 
with grave and reverend senators, and to mingle with representa 
tives of the people from slaveholding states, I find a great dif 
ference between myself and them on the subject. God knows, I 
should find it hard to consent to be the unbidden, the unchosen rep 
resentative of bondmen ! They must be freemen that I volunteer 
to represent; every man of them must be a whole man. But my 
respected friends who represent the slave states are willing, and do 
most cheerfully, most gladly consent to represent three-fifths of all 


the negro slaves. They take a slave at three-fifths of a man, and 
they represent the three-fifths ; I doubt not they would be very 
glad if he could be converted into five-fifths. 

Well I think the democratic party has not so much repugnance to 
negroes and the negro question, because they consent to take offices 
of president, vice-president, secretary of state, ministers to Bogota, 
and to all other parts of the world, consulships and post offices, that 
are derived indirectly by adding another link to the chain of states 
in which negroes count, each one, three-fifths. No, no ; slaveholders 
and the democratic party would be very glad to take votes from 
negroes, free or slave, by the head, at full count, if negroes and slaves 
would only vote for slavery ; and it is only because they have a 
sagacious insight into human nature, which teaches them that negroes 
and slaves would vote for liberty, that makes the negro question so 
repulsive to them. 

But is this one idea, the eternal negro question, so objectionable 
merely on account of the negro? I think not; I think it far other 
wise ; for after all, you see that the negro has less than anybody 
else in the world, to do with it. The negro is no party to it; he is 
nly an incident; he is a subject of disputes but not one of the liti 
gants. He has just as much to do with it as a horse or a watch in a 
justice s court, when two neighbors are litigating about its owner 
ship. The controversy is not with the negro at all, but with two 
classes of white men, one who have a monopoly of negroes, and the 
other who have no negroes. One is an aristocratic class, that wants 
to extend itself over the new territories and so retain the power it 
already exercises; and the other is yourselves, my good friends, 
men who have no negroes and won t have any, and who mean that 
the aristocratic system shall not be extended. There is no negro 
question about it at all. It is an eternal question between classes 
between the few privileged and the many unprivileged the eternal 
question between aristocracy and democracy. 

A sorrowful world this will be when that question shall be put 
to rest ; for when it is, the rest that it shall have, shall be the same 
it has always had for six thousand years ; the riding of the privi 
leged over the necks of the unprivileged, booted and spurred. And 
the nation that is willing to establish such an aristocracy, and is 
shamed out of the defense of its own rights, deserves no better fate 
than that which befalls the timid, the cowardly and the unworthy. 


It is to-day in the United States the same question that is filling 
II angary, and is lifting the throne of a Cassar of Austria from its 
pedestals ; the same which has expelled the tyrant of Naples from 
the beautiful Sicily, and has driven him from his palace at Castella- 
mare to seek shelter in his fortress at Gaeta. It is not only an eternal 
question, but it is a universal question. Every man from a foreign 
land will find here in America, in another form, the irrepressible 
conflict which crushed him out, an exile from his native land. 

Again, I am not quite convinced that it is sound philosophy in 
anything, at least in politics, to banish the principle of giving para 
mount importance at any one time to one idea. If a man wishes 
to secure a good crop of wheat to pay off the debt he owes upon 
Lis land, he is seized with one idea in the spring, he plows, plants 
and sows, he gathers and reaps, with a single idea of getting forty 
bushels to the acre, if he can. If a merchant wishes to be success 
ful, he surrenders himself to the one idea of buying as cheap and 
selling as dear as he honestly can. I would not give much for a 
lawyer who is put in charge of my case, that would suffer himself, 
when before the jury, to be distracted with a great many irrelevant 
ideas. I want one devoted to my cause. In the church we have a 
great many clergymen who have a horror of this one idea involved 
in the negro question, but I think it was St. Peter who had it made 
known to him, in a vision on the housetop, that he must not have 
scattered ideas; but on the contrary adopt one idea only, that of being 
satisfied with everything else, provided he could only win souls to his 
Master. And Paul was very much after this spirit ; he said he 
would be all things to all men, provided he could save some souls. 
There was in the revolution one man seized with a terrible fanaticism, 
propelled by one idea He scattered terror all through this conti 
nent; and when he passed from Boston to the first congress in Phila 
delphia, deputations from New York and Philadelphia went out to 
meet and dissuade this erratic man of that one idea, namely, that of 
national independence. And still John Adams proved, after all, to 
be a public benefactor. There was, during the revolution, another 
man of one idea, that appeared to burn in him so ardently that he was 
regarded as the most dangerous man on the continent, and a triple 
reward was -offered for his head. He actually went so far as to take 
all the men of one idea in the country, and suffer himself to take 
command of them in a rebellion. That man was George Washington. 


His idea was justice, political justice. There was another monoma 
niac of the same kind down in Virginia ; he, at the close of the revo 
lution, had one idea, an eternal idea, and it even included negroes; 
and that was the idea of equality. This was Thomas Jefferson. Now, 
though the state which reared him might be glad if it could erase 
from his monument at Monticello its sublime inscription, yet the 
world can never lose that proud and beautiful epitaph, written by 
himself : " Here lies Thomas Jefferson, the author of the Declaration 
of Independence." About the year 1805 or 1806, the French secre 
tary for foreign affairs gave a dinner to the American representative 
at court, and to American citizens resident there, and there was a 
large and various party. When the wine flowed freely, and conver 
sation ought to have been general, there was one young man who 
was possessed with one idea, and he could not keep quiet, bat kept 
continually putting this idea before the minister and his guests, say 
ing, " If you will only make up for me a purse, or show me a bank 
that will lend me five thousand dollars, I will put a boat on the Hud 
son river which will make the passage from New York to Albany at 
four miles an hour, without being driven by oars or sails." He was 
an offensive monomaniac, that Robert Fulton. But still, had it not 
been for his one idea, Iowa would have slept the last forty years, 
and down to the twentieth century, and not one human being before 
me, or within the boundaries of this state, would have resided here. 
What I understand by one idea is this : It simply means that a man, 
or a people, or a state, is in earnest. They get an idea which they 
think is useful, and they are in earnest. God save us when we are 
to abandon confidence in earnest men, and take to following trivial 
men of light minds, confused and scattered ideas, and weak purposes. 
There is no such thing as government carried out without the 
intervention, the exaltation of one idea, and without the activity, 
guidance and influence of earnest men. You may be listless, 
indifferent, indolent, each one of you ; do you therefore get other 
people to go to sleep? No. You may go to sleep, but you will 
find somebody, that has got one idea that you don t like, will be 
wide awake. Democrats are wide awake on the negro question as 
long as it pays, and it pays just as long as you will be content to 
follow their advice and take several ideas. Industry is the result 
of one idea. I have never heard of idle ones in the beaver s camp, 
br.t I do know there are drones in the beehive. Nevertheless, the 


beaver s camp and the beehive alike give evidence of the domination 
of one idea. The Almighty Power himself could never have made 
the world, and never govern it, if he had not bent the force and 
application of the one idea to make it perfect. And when at seven 
o clock in the morning, three months ago, with the almanac in my 
hand, I stood with my smoked glass between my eye and the sun to see 
whether the almanac maker was correct or whether nature vacillated 
between one idea and another, I was astonished to see that, at the 
very second of time indicated by the astronomer, the shadow of the 
moon entered the disk of the sun. There was one idea only in 
the mind of the Omnipotent Creator, that six thousand, or ten thou 
sand, or twenty thousand, or hundreds of thousands of years ago, set 
that sun, that moon and this earth in their places, and subjected them 
to laws which brought that shadow exactly at this point at that 
instant of time. Earth is serious; heaven is serious; earth is ear 
nest ; heaven is earnest. There is no place for men of scattered 
and confused ideas in the earth below, or in the heavens above, what 
ever there may be in places under the earth. Every one idea has its 
negative. It has its destinies, its purpose, and it lias its negative. 
So it is with the idea of slavery. It means nothing less, nothing 
more, nothing different from the extension of commerce or trading 
iu slaves ; and in our national system it means the extension of 
commerce in slaves into regions where that commerce has no right 
to exist. The negative of that is our principle which we are endeavor 
ing to inculcate upon you, namely : opposition to trading in slaves 
within those portions of the territory where slaves are not lawfully a 
subject of merchandise. 

At the time of the compromise of 1820, the democratic party saw, 
for they are wise men, and their opponents, Rufus King, John W. 
Taylor and others in congress, saw, that there was an irrepressible 
conflict between the two ideas of slavery and freedom, or rather 
between the two sides of one idea. The alternative offered to the 
democracy and to all the people of the United States, was a plain 
one; the slaveholders are strong, are united; there are many slave 
states, and they are agreed in their policy ; there are as many free 
states, but they are divided in opinion. Lend your support to the 
slave states, and you shall have the power, patronage, honors and 
glory of administering the government of the United States. Some 
asked, for how long ? Wise men cast the horoscope and said forty 


years; just about that time an infant state shall grow up north of 
Missouri within the Louisiana purchase, and another shall grow up 
in Kansas. The great men I have named seemed few and feeble in 
numbers; still they would rather have quiet consciences during all 
the time, and postpone honors and rewards for forty years, rather 
than to take the side of slavery ; and the democratic party reason 
ing otherwise, said, " Give us the offices and power now ; we will 
hold it the forty years, and more if we can." They say that the 
u old one " is inexorable ; that when he makes a bond he lives up to 
it, but when the time is up he calls for his own. To Mr. Breckin- 
ridge, Mr. Douglas, slave states and all, he says : " I have given you 
all the indulgence that was allowed rne to give you, now you must 

This, my young friends, for I see many such around me, brings 
me to a point where I can give you one instruction which, if you 
practice as long as you live, may make at least some of you great 
men, honorable men, useful men. Remember that all questions have 
two sides ; one is the right side, and the other the wrong side ; one 
is the side of justice, the other that of injustice; one the side of 
human nature, the other of crime. If you take the right side, the 
just side, ultimately men, however much they may oppose you and 
revile you, will come to your support ; earth with all its powers will 
work with you and for you, and Heaven is pledged to conduct you 
to complete success. If you take the other side, there is no power 
in earth or Heaven that can lead you through successfully, because 
it is appointed in the councils of Heaven that justice, truth and rea 
son alone can prevail. This instruction would be incomplete if I 
were not to add one other, that indifference between right and wrong 
is nothing else than taking the wrong side. The policy of a great 
leader of the democratic party in the north is indifference; it is 
nothing to him whether slavery is voted up or voted down in the 
territories. Thus it makes no difference to that distinguished states 
man whether slavery is voted up or voted down in the new states; 
whether they all become slave states or free states. Let us see how 
this would have worked in the revolution. If Jefferson had been 
indifferent as to whether congress voted up the declaration of inde 
pendence or voted it down, what kind of a time would he have had 
with it. Patrick Henry would have been after him with a vigilant 
committee, and he would now have no monument over his remains. 


The British government would have liked nothing better than a lot 
of such indifferent men for leaders of the American people, and 
George the Third and his dynasty might have had rule over this con 
tinent for a thousand years to come. 

I have thus removed the preliminary objection always interposed 
on these occasions against the indulgence of the eternal negro ques 
tion. What is the just and right national policy with regard to 
slavery in the territories and in the new states of the Federal 
Union? Your decision of that subject will involve the conside 
ration of what you consider to be the natural constituents of a state. 
I suppose 1 may infer from your choosing this beautiful land on the 
western bank of the Mississippi, that you all want to make Iowa a 
great and good state, a flourishing and prosperous state. You con 
sider the development of the latent resources with which nature 
has supplied the region on which you build a state, as one of the 
material things to be considered in building up a great state ; that is 
to say, you will have the forests subjugated and make them contri 
bute the timber and lumber for the house, for the city, for the wharf, 
for the steamer, for the ship of war, and for all the purposes of civi 
lized society. Then I think if the land has concealed within it 
deposits of iron, or lead, or coal, you will think of getting these out 
as rapidly as you can, so as to increase the public wealth. Then I 
think that you will have the same idea about states everywhere else 
that you have about Iowa ; and that your first idea about the way 
to make a state corresponds with my idea how to make a great 
nation. And as you would subdue the forests, would develop 
the lead, iron and coal in your region ; as you would improve the 
fields, putting ten oxen to a plow to turn up the prairie, and then 
plant it with wheat and corn ; as you would encourage manufactures, 
and try, by making railways and telegraphs, to facilitate interchange 
of products; so this is exactly what I propose to do for every new 
state like Iowa that is to be admitted into the Federal Union. To be 
sure we shall leave the slave states, which are all in the Union, as 
they are; our responsibilities are limited to the states which are yet 
to come into the Union, and we will apply our system to them. The 
first point, then, in making a state, is to favor the industry of the 
people, and industry is favored in every land exactly as it is free and 

VOL. IV. 48 


We are a great nation ; we have illimitable forests in the far east 
and on the banks of the upper waters of the Mississippi, around the 
lakes and on the Pacific coast. No human arithmetic could com 
pute the amount of materials of the forest that have already gone into 
the aggregate of the wealth which this nation possesses. At this day 
there is hardly one foot of timber, or one foot of dealboards, or a lath, 
or a shingle, entering into the commerce of the United States that 
is fabricated by a slave. You all have an idea, or had in the land 
from which you came here, of the value and importance of the fish 
eries, of making the ocean surrender its treasures to increase the 
national wealth. The fisherman is seen in the winter time fishing 
for ice in the ponds and lakes of Massachusetts ; and if you go to 
Palestine, or to Grand Cairo, or to the furthest Indies, you will find 
yourself regaled with ice fished out of the lakes and ponds of Mas 
sachusetts. Ice is not a product that goes far to the support of 
human life ; but can you tell me in what part of the earth men 
are not lighted on their way by night, or in their dwellings, by the 
produce of the fisheries ? Have you any idea how much the great 
machinery of the country engaged in fabrication of goods and in 
navigation is indebted to the fisheries? Those of the United States 
are a great source of national wealth ; and a nursery of seamen for 
the commercial marine and naval service of the United States, indis 
pensable for the development of the resources of a great people. 
I might almost say that there is not now, and there never was. on 
lake or river, sea or bay, over the whole world, from the Arctic to 
the Antarctic pole, a negro slave fisherman. You have been very 
indifferent about these subjects. 

It was only two years ago, only by constant watchfulness and 
activity of the friendly representatives of the free states in congress, 
that the protection of the United States was saved for the fisheries. 
The slaveholders don t want ice to be gathered with free-soil hands; 
they would rather have it taken from the lakes and rivers of Russia. 
They don t want the fisheries conducted by free hands at home ; 
they would rather take their supplies from foreign markets. The 
fisheries are somewhat foreign for yon, but the quarries are not the 
granite and the marble out of which our capitol is being constructed, 
our great cities erected, some of them are in yoitr own beautiful city. 
Have you any idea of how large a portion of the national wealth is 
extracted from the quarries of granite and marble and freestone? It 


is beyond my capacity to compute. Yet there is not a slave engaged 
in a quarry in the United States. Have you any slaves down your 
shafts in your lead mines here? Not one. Have you any slaves in 
your coal mines ? Not one. Any in your iron mines ? Not one. 
Pennsylvania is being burrowed all through and through in all 
directions, and the iron and coal taken out and fabricated. There is 
not a single slave, nor was there ever one, that raised his hand to 
add to that supply of national wealth. On the other hand, you 
have in Maryland and in Virginia deposits of coal and iron as rich, 
aye, and of gold, too; and yet in Maryland and Virginia, slave states 
as they are, in their iron, coal and silver mines, the work is mainly 
done by freemen. I need not speak of manufactures ; the African 
slave is reduced to a brute, as nearly as may be, and he is incompe 
tent to cast a shuttle, to grease or oil a wheel and keep it in motion. 
In all the vast manufacturing establishments in the United States ; in 
all the establishments of the forest, and of the fisheries, or of manu 
factures throughout the whole world, there is not one African slave 
to be found. California rejected the labor of slaves, and well she 
did so; for if she had invited and courted it, her mines, instead of 
yielding fifty millions of gold per year to the commerce of the United 
States, would be yielding nothing. Could a man subsist in Iowa by 
cultivating wheat or corn by slave labor ? 

Commerce is of two kinds, domestic and foreign. The commerce 
down the Mississippi and up, the commerce on railroads, is domestic 
commerce ; the commerce across the ocean with foreign nations, is 
foreign commerce. In New Orleans I found that sixteen thousand 
men were engaged in domestic trading on the river between New 
Orleans and the up country in the Mississippi valley. How many 
of them were slaves? Not one. Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, 
Kentucky, New York, Michigan, send the boatmen who conduct the 
commerce even in slave states, while on all the oceans there is not a 
slave engaged in commerce. 

Now the three great wheels of national wealth are agriculture, 
including the subjugation of the forests, manufactures and trade. 
Slaves are unfit, African slaves are absolutely unfit to be employed 
in turning either of those wheels; and it thus enters into the ele 
ments of a great and prosperous state that its people shall not be 
slaves but freemen. The reason is obvious; it is the interest of the 
freeman to improve himself as well as he can, to produce the most 


he can, at the least cost; and it is the interest of the slave to be r.s 
disqualified as he can, to consume as much as he can, and produce 
as little more than he consumes as possible. 

It is not wealth jilone that makes a nation. It must have strength 
and power to command, by the mere signification of its will, peace 
and good order at home and respect and confidence abroad. Just 
imagine the United States converted into planting states in which 
the labor was performed only by negro slaves, and judge, if you can, 
what would be the police power of the government in any of the 
states. The laborer in a slave state is watched night and morning; 
his outgoings, his incomings, his path is surrounded by a police ; he 
can pass to execute the order of his master only on a permit or 
license. He must retire to sleep at nine or ten at night, and must 
not be abroad from the plantation without a special license, for no 
other reason than that his master regards him as an enemy to be 
watched. Turn a whole nation into masters watching slaves, and 
.slaves regarded as natural enemies what is the power of that nation 
to preserve peace at home ? What its power to command respect 
abroad ? Make us for once a nation of slave states, and any feeble, 
contemptible power in Europe has only to instigate insurrection 
among our slaves, then instead of relying on ourselves we should 
want to make a federal union with Canada, that we might get pro 
tection, just as the free states now protect the slave states. 

But these elements mate rial wealth and power are but part of 
what constitute a nation. It should have a head, an enlightened 
head ; an open, free, manly, honest heart. Such a head and heart 
as will enable any man or woman to go through the world with 
safety. A nation is only an aggregate of individuals, of so many 
heads to work as one head ; of so many hearts to beat as one heart. 
You want an enlightened free people to constitute a nation ; and if 
you have such a people, they are perpetually reducing the sacrifice, 
and toil of muscle ; and if it be true as theologians say, that labor is the 
primal curse imposed by the Maker on man for disobedience, then 
this benevolent heart and enlightened head will suggest all manner 
of machines to relieve them of the necessity of physical labor. The 
poor widow, who, to eke out a subsistence, has to sew for her neigh 
bors, will, with a machine that costs but from fifty to one hundred 
dollars the invention of a freeman make fifty garments where 
before she made but one. And the steam engine it plows, plants, 


sows and harvests ; it threshes ; it gathers into the granaries ; it hauls 
the cars loaded with produce ; it drives the steamboat on the river. 
That is what invention does. Now out of the million inventions 
which the American people enjoy, there is not one that was made 
by a slave, and simply because the slave is imbruted in his heart 
and stupified in his intellect. 

A nation to be great wants character character for justice, hon 
esty, integrity ; for ability to maintain its own rights and respect for 
the rights of others. That it cannot have, if it be a nation of slaves. 
It is only a nation of freemen that can cultivate the virtues which 
constitute a character. These virtues are two ; justice, equal and exact 
justice among men; the equal freedom and liberty of every other 
man. The other virtue is courage. The freeman has no enemies; 
he is just ; he oppresses nobody ; nobody wishes to be revenged upon 
him. A nation of freemen are safe ; they provoke nobody ; they 
wrong nobody ; they covet nothing ; they keep the tenth command 
ment. And nations must keep the commandments as well -as indi 
viduals, or suffer the same penalty. But you cannot have these 
morals except on one condition, and that is that the people of the 
nation are trained up in them. And how trained? By schools and 
general instruction, free press, free debate at home, and in legislative 
councils ; and everywhere to be undisturbed as they go in and come 
out. Introduce slavery in Iowa, and what kind of freedom of speech 
would you enjoy? What kind of freedom of the press? freedom of 
bridges? of taverns? Just look across the state of Missouri into 
Kansas, and you will find freedom of the press, provided you will 
maintain that property is above labor, that slavery is before all con 
stitutions and governments you will find that kind of freedom of 
speech which sought the expulsion of John Quincy Adams from 
the congress of the United States, for presenting a petition in favor 
of human rights; that kind of freedom of debate which arrested my 
distinguished and esteemed friend, Charles Surnner, in the midst of a 
glorious and useful career, and doomed him to wander a sufferer and 
invalid for four years. As for freedom of bridges, why the bridge over 
the Missouri at Kansas was proved to be only a bridge for slave state 
men ; and the tavern at Lawrence was subverted for a nuisance on 
account of its being a tavern at which free state men could rest. 

It is a bright September afternoon, and a strange feeling of surprise 
comes over me that I should be here in the state of Iowa the state 


redeemed and saved in the compromise of 1820 a state peopled by 
freemen that I should be here in such a state, before such a people, 
imploring its citizens to maintain the cause of freedom instead of 
the cause of slavery. It is a great change from the position I was 
in only a year ago. In Italy, in Austria, in Turkey even, I was 
excusing, in the best way I could, the monstrous delinquencies of 
the American people in tolerating slavery, which even the Turk 
had abrogated. You tell me that it is unnecessary ; that you are 
all right ; I happen to know better. No ! the wide-awakes are not 
up an hour too soon ; they do not sit up any too late o nights ; 
their zeal is not a bit too strong to save the state of Iowa from giving 
her votes, in the present canvass, in favor of the policy which has 
for forty years made slavery the cardinal institution, and freedom 
secondary to it in the United States. There is something of excuse 
and apology for this ; it is in the reluctance which men who are 
always opposed to one new idea coming in, have to give up the old 
idea, which they have so long cherished. The democratic party has 
a wonderful affection for the name ; the prestige of the democratic 
party; and most of them must die unconverted. It is not in hu 
man nature that adult men and women change their opinions with 
facility ; it is little ones like these before me that receive reforms 
unobserved and unknown. Ten thousand of their votes enter into 
every successive canvass in the state of Iowa. In every state the 
great reformation which has been made within the last six years 
for we date no further back than that has been the dying out of 
the one-idea men of democracy and the growing up of the young 
one-idea men of republicanism. And now why shall we not insist, 
so far as our votes shall be effective, that the territories shall remain 
free territories, so that new states which shall hereafter be added to 
this Union shall be free states? 

They say we interfere in the slave "titr~ "Mpt nififlll We do not 

- mm.V ar * " 

vote against slavery in Virginia. We do not authorize Abraham 
Lincoln or the congress of the United States to pass any laws about 
slavery in Virginia. We merely authorize them to intervene in the 
territories, and to pass laws securing freedom there. They tell us 
that it is unnecessary. They have rendered it necessary, because 
they have explained the laws and the constitution to establish slavery 
there, and we must either restrict slavery there or reverse the decision 
made by the federal tribunal. But they tell us that this is incon- 


vcnient ; it excites violence in the slave states. To which I answer 
that they have the choice between slavery and freedom as well as 
we ; but they must be content to leave it where it is. When they 
choose to carry slaves into the territories we interfere. ASJ^at we 
are_attackmgis not slavery^m the United States, but slavery in the 
territories. But tln-y tell us Unit we are incurring very great harm; 
that bur southern friends, driven angry, will not buy of us. Mayor 
Wood made the discovery that we are a trading people, and we shall 
Ios3 our trade if the republican party come into power. We are a 
trading people as we are an eating people, a drinking people, a 
clothes-wearing people. Trade! trade! trade! the great character, 
the great employment, the one idea of the American people ! It is 
a libel. We buy only with what we produce. We buy and sell, 
but that is merely incidental to our greater occupation of producing 
and making ; and even these are subordinate to our great notion of 
educating and cultivating ourselves to make a great, virtuous and 
happy people. Trade, however, for those who engage in it, knows no 
respect of opinion ; the southern planters will buy their cotton bag 
ging of the men who will make it the cheapest, and they will insist 
on selling cotton to the Castle Garden committees and the Cooper 
Institute patriots at precisely the same price as they will to Wendell 
Phillips and Frederick Douglass. They won t buy your wheat unless 
hungry for bread ; and if hungry for bread they will gladly give 
you for it any surplus of cotton you want. 

I have refrained from adverting to the higher sentiments of 
humanity which enter into the consideration of this subject, because 
those are considerations that are always with you. I will now, how 
ever, say that the suggestions of justice are always in harmony with 
the suggestions and impulses of humanity, and that both spring from 
the same source. Nature herself seems to be forbearing ; she seems to 
be passive and silent. She lets nations as she lets individuals go on 
in their course of action, violating her laws ; but this is for a season 
only. The time comes at last when nature unerringly vindicates 
every right, and punishes every wrong, in the actions of men or 
states. She comes, then, in terror, in revolution, in anarchy, in 
chaos. You will let this government and this nation slide down 
still further the smooth declivity of national vice if you choose: 
nature will bring it back again in due time with convulsions which 
will wake the sighs and groans of the civilized world. 



THE past, since the adoption of the constitution, has been occupied 
with trials to compromise the conflict between property in man and 
the freedom of man, and these trials have proved unsuccessful. The 
future demands the settlement of it now, by a return to the princi 
ples of the declaration of independence and the constitution. This con 
clusion can be reached only by accepting the principle of the political 
equality of men within the exclusive range of the federal constitu 
tion, yhis is simply a matter of education. It is not worth while 
to spend much time upon this subject in trying to convert old men ; 
they cannot last long, and therefore can do little harm. We all 
become settled in our opinions and confirmed in our habits as we 
grow old. The republican party is a party chiefly of young men. 
Each successive year brings into its ranks an increasing proportion 
of the young men of this country. 

This is the ground of my hope, of my confidence, that before this 
generation shall have passed away, the democratic party will cease 
to exist ; and the republican party, or at least its principles, will be 
accepted and universally prevail. If it be true, as the declaration 
of independence asserts, that the right of all men to political equa 
lity is self-evident, nothing can prevent the acknowledgment of that 
fact by the generation now rising, since that truth is distinctly incul 
cated now, for the first time, through all the agencies of private and 
public education. The young man who shall reject it will find 
himself in controversy with the ever-growing sentiment of his coun 
trymen, and the settled public opinion of the world. Let him take 
heed how he enters upon a. course which can bring nothing but 
unavailing contention, disappointment and regret over the failure of 
his ambition and of his desire for usefulness. Train up your chil 
dren in the belief of this great principle of our constitution, and 
they will secure for themselves the satisfaction of leading useful and 
honorable lives, and follow you to yaur graves with more than even 
filial veneration. 

1 Extract from a speech at Cleveland, Oct. 4, 1860. 



A LONG cherished desire of mine is fulfilled ; at last a long 
deferred duty is about to be paid the desire of my heart to see the 
people of Kansas the duty that I felt I owed to the people of Kan 
sas, to see them in their own homes and in their own houses. I 
have visited your chief cities, Leaven worth and Lawrence where 
the army of mercenaries sent by the slave states battered down the 
hotel, under an indictment and conviction in a court of the United 
States as a nuisance, because it sheltered the freemen who had corne 
here to see freedom established in Kansas. And I have looked also 
upon the Constitution Hall, in Topeka, where the army of the United 
States, for the first time in the history of our nation, dispersed a law 
ful and peaceable assembly of citizens of the United States, convened 
to counsel upon the best means of protecting their lives, their pro 
perty and sacred honor. You, people of Kansas, whom I have not 
been able to see in your homes, have come up here to greet me, from 
the valleys of the Kansas, the Big Blue and the Neosho, and from, 
all your plains and valleys. 

I seem not to have journeyed hither, but to have floated across 
the sela, the prairie sea, under bright autumnal skies, wafted by 
genial breezes into the havens where I wished to be. I am not sorrv 
that my visit has occurred at this particular time, so sad in its influ 
ence, when nature, that sends its rains upon the unjust as well as the 
just, has for a year withdrawn its genial showers from the soil of 
Kansas. It is well to see one s friends in darkness and sadness, as 
well as in the hour of joy. I have beheld the scenes of your former 
conflicts. I have also looked upon that beautiful eminence on the 
banks of the Kansas river, where Lecornpton sits a lonely widow r 
desolate and mourning, her ambitious structures showing how high 
is the ambition of slavery, and their desolation showing how easv T 

VOL. TV. 49 


after all, is her downfall. I would have seen more of Kansas, if I 
had not been interrupted and impeded in my course through the 
state by the hospitality and kindness of the people, which I could 
not turn aside. I have been excessively retentive at Leaven worth 
and Topeka, refusing to open my lips, because I do not like to say 
things by piecemeal. 

I desire to speak openly to you, in the broad daylight, in the hear 
ing of the women as well as men of Kansas ; and here, where I have 
renewed the memories of the contest waged upon this soil, while I 
see around rue the broken implements with which that contest was 
waged by the aggressors under the plea of popular sovereignty, 
which left the; people perfectly free to do just as they please, subject 
to the constitution of the United States, which they were left per 
fectly free to interpret as they pleased, while the authorities at Wash 
ington have never been able to interpret it. 

When I look at field after field, and cabin after cabin, and church 
after church, and school house after school house, where but six 
years ago was the unbroken range of savages, I am prepared here 
not expecting to escape being heard on the Pacific as well as the 
Atlantic coast I am prepared to declare, and do declare you people 
of Kansas the most intelligent and the bravest and most virtuous 
people of the United States. That is the most intelligent and bravest 
and most virtuous people which can take the banner of human free 
dom when it is trailed in the dust by the government of its choice, 
and can and does raise it aloft and protect it and bear it to success 
and honor and that without bloodshed and violence. 

People of Kansas ! you are at once the youngest, the newest 
people the newest state, as well as the youngest of all the thirty- 
four American states ; you are the poorest in wealth, the least favored 
with political power, for you are nearly disfranchised and yet you 
are the most inflexible and the most constant. The two richest states 
in the Union are Massachusetts and New York, but they are so 
merely because they are the freest, the wisest and the most liberty- 
loving states of the Union. I apprehend that you scarcely under 
stand, yourselves, the importance of the position which you hold in 
this republic. You will perhaps be surprised when I tell you that 
the secret of all the interest I have felt in you has been merely this : 
That you occupy a 1 pivotal position in the republic of the United 
States, with regard to slavery and freedom. There is no contest, no 


difference on this subject, along the line of the northeastern states, for 
they are hostile to slavery. There is no difference on the line of the 
southern states, for they are in favor of slavery. But there has 
been a severe strife between freedom and slavery, for the establish 
ment of freedom or slavery in all the wide region reaching from the 
Missouri to the Pacific ocean. If freedom was to triumph in this 
contest, there was no point where she could expect to meet the enemy 
except on the very place she has met it here. And if you had 
been false, slavery would have swept along through the Indian terri 
tory, Texas and the whole of the country including the Rocky moun 
tains, to the Pacific ocean. 

California was imperfectly secured to freedom, and with a compro 
mise. You opened a new campaign here to reclaim what was given 
up in that already broken compromise, and it has been crowned with 
a complete victory. Henceforth the battle is ended ; henceforth the 
emigrant from the eastern states, from Germany and Ireland, the free 
laborer, in short, from every land on the earth, when he reaches the 
Missouri river, will enter on a broad land of impartial liberty. 

He can safely pursue his way under the banner of freedom to the 
foot of the Rocky mountains ; and there the hosts of freemen from 
the western coast will unite and join under the same banner, extend 
ing north and south. Everywhere, except in Missouri, is a land of 
freedom. Missouri stands an island of slavery in the midst of a broad 
ocean of liberty. You occupy not only the pivotal position, but it 
was your fortune to attempt this great enterprise in behalf of free 
dom at a critical period for mankind. Slavery was then just two 
hundred years old in the United States. In the year 1776 our 
fathers gave battle to slavery; the}^ declared war against it, and 
pledged their lives and sacred honor in the service against it. Prac 
tically, it was to be destroyed peaceably under the constitution of 
the United States. Those good men believed it would reach its end 
long before this period ; but the people became demoralized. The 
war went back, b